The common, and stereotypical, image in a gym is women putting in work on the treadmills, bikes, and ellipticals, and males are aggressively pumping iron in the weight room. This would be acceptable, and some regimes work for others, but the fact is integration of strength training is key for many women to reach their fitness goals. This contradiction can leave women feeling confused on a lack of results, or restricted in their exercise plans.
There are a variety of reasons why women avoid strength training. This could be from misconceptions about “getting bulky” or being intimidated by the weight room. However, there has been a societal shift in the views of women over the past few years. This shift is trickling down into gyms and weight rooms across the country.
Trends show that more and more women actually are interested in lifting weights. There has been a collective effort by researchers, fitness bloggers and trainers to prove strength training misconceptions wrong. The challenge now is less about convincing women why they should be lifting weights and more about educating them how to safely and effectively lift weights; and creating the space for them to do so. Now that the curiosity women have for weight lifting has peaked, the goal is to empower them to act on their curiosity.
The hard part has passed, it’s not that women do not want to be in the weight room, it’s that they have never felt it was their space. Now it’s on us as trainers, fitness enthusiasts, and fellow female weight lifters to create that inclusive environment. It’s on the male weightlifters to step aside, drop judgement and let women lift! There is finally more research on “best practices” for women to lift weights, what affects it has on the female body specifically, and how to best teach women proper techniques.
The AU Rec Fit Women on Weights (WOW) program is a perfect example of teaching women what to do and how to do it so they have an unparalleled confidence when walking into the weight room.
“The Women on Weights program was the educational program I knew I wanted but didn’t know I needed. It covers everything from proper warm-up, how-to on all the equipment, weight room tips and tricks, and left me with my own custom workout plan. There is power in numbers and one of the best parts of the program is that you are with a group of peers equally as excited to explore this world of strength training they would not have individually. WOW showed me that a lot of the “intimidating men” often do not know what they are doing either. More importantly WOW showed me how strong my body, and mind, actually is, and something I carry with me in both my workouts and my day-to-day life.”
Women lifting weights comes down to empowerment. Women and (men) empowering women to take agency over their bodies, take control of their workouts and collectively create an inclusive space for those with the passion and curiosity for working out. Taking the first, and often scary step, into the weight room could be tomorrow, next month or next year. But women need to know that the weight room belongs to them, and there will be other women lifting them up, along the way.
Abby Lore, Wellness Ambassador