I talk so much about yoga and now running, but I don’t give anywhere near the amount of written love as I should (and owe), to strength training. So today, I wanted to talk about my love for weights, plates, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and everything in between. I owe strength training my life. May sound dramatic, but it’s not. I’ve spoken about it before when I started this blog, but I’ll talk about why it holds such a special place in my life (just look at my blog’s name!).
I was always that little girl who wanted to be older and do all the cool things. I would dream about things like playing hockey like my older brother, football, and of course lifting weights in the “big-bad” gym. I didn’t have time for trying many sports as a child. My life consisted of school and the world of competitive dance. Meaning, when I wasn’t at school, I was at dance…everyday. I can’t (and won’t for now), even begin to hash out my feelings and thoughts about those 13 years as a dancer. At times it was fulfilling and others that was the furthest thing from the truth.
Once I stopped in high school, I had nothing. I had no other “sport” to do and I was to “old” to try taking up something new. But my body craved fitness. Being active had been my way of life since before I could even say the word fitness. So what’s a girl to do? Finally follow that passion of wanting to do a “non-girly” grown-up sport. Thus, my mom signed me up at the local YMCA where I could try some group classes first and maybe even meander to the open gym.
This is where I started Group Power (just like Body Pump, but programmed by a different provider.) I fell in love, head-over-heels, for strength training! I felt amazing! I still remember that first class: I had my mom wait with me before I could go in and had her introduce me to the instructor. The instructor helped me set up my station and told me to start with a set of each of the plates. Let me tell you….I had never actually lifted weights before and that night, after class, my muscles were literally shaking for hours! But very quickly, I became the “pro” in that Monday night 7pm class. It was me, the young teenager, in the front row, with all the “older” (30s-60s) women (and sometimes a few men!) behind me, every week, in that energizing powering class!
Not only was I taking that class once a week, but I also started going through machine circuits in the main gym twice a week. I would warm up on the cross-trainer and then beast it out on the machines. It was fun and I loved doing it. I kept seeing so much progress each week, each month. I was soon lifting the heaviest in my power class (more than the instructor), really I would load up that bar for the squat track! I felt so good and I knew I had finally found my new fitness passion. My body literally transformed before my eyes. No longer was I simply “in-shape”, but I actually had strength and muscle definition. My arms, finally, were actually strong! (Dancers have strong legs… not arms).
As the years progressed, so did my love for heavy things, I began to feel a lot more comfortable with strength training. I ventured out to free weights, dumbbells and barbells. That’s how I am now. I use “real” weights for my strength training and have gotten stronger and stronger. I stopped going to the gym and started using the full weight rack I was blessed to have at home (as well as the barbell I got for my birthday one year!). No machines needed. Now that I have access to a gym again here in college, I do use one or two machines and of course the cable set-up. But no matter what, I always feel at home in a gym, no fear or intimidation.
This brings me to another point. No fear or intimidation in the gym. I am the only girl I have ever seen lifting weights in the gym here at school. Why? Really I have no idea. If there’s a girl in the gym other than me, she is mindlessly on the treadmill, cross trainer, or stairmill. These girls don’t dare touch the weights. (Another fun fact I’ve noticed is that I’m lifting heavier than most of the guys down there too, haha!)
It makes me so sad that STILL girls are neglecting or intimidated by strength training. They think cardio is all they need. Why won’t this stigma around strength training go away? I feel like girls (especially these younger college age girls) feel that lifting weights is a sin, that it’s not meant for girls. I guess if they’re not surrounded by the fitness community, all they have is the media’s bogus crap about doing cardio everyday to lose weight or some “7-day” or “30-day” squat challenge to “get the butt you want”. Sorry girls, but that’s not going to work.
College students as a whole need to learn how to properly implement fitness (all areas) into their lives. These are the years of trying new things and discovering! We need to keep ourselves healthy so we CAN do that. I cringe and it hurts my soul when I see one of these students with horrible form, improperly doing some exercise, or utilizing the machines wrong….or just endlessly doing cardio. I’m not in a position to say anything, so I just do my thing and enjoy the wonderful benefits I know I’m bringing to my life.
To end, here is my little ode to strength training. The fitness passion that changed my life in more ways than just getting physically stronger. Lifting weights makes me feel strong, powerful, confident, beautiful, brave, badass, focused, empowered. It gives me the feeling of satisfaction and challenges me in ways nothing else can. I leave feeling energized and excited for more. I know I can lift that heavy box or hold my body weight in an emergency. So it provides safety and comfort as well. It strengthens my bones and my mind. It’s also just plain fun! There’s endless exercises to do, rep schemes to try, weights to up. And I can surprise people. I may be a small yogi girl, but I’m a little powerhouse. Push-up competition? Let’s go! I walk into the gym with my chin up and all the confidence in the world. I love the life and fearlessness strength training has given me. I would never trade it for the world.
(O, and I just love the calluses on my hands! They’re the best!)
So tell me:
+ Are you still intimidated by weight lifting?
+ Finish the sentence: Strength training makes me feel….?
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