As a women with curves like a country road walking to the gym, I used to feel restricted to one side of the building. The men stayed in their corner, lifting heavy things and putting them back down again, and I hopped on my elliptical and ran like a hamster on a wheel.
I wanted to be stronger, but felt uncomfortable among the tank-topped macho men staring at themselves in the mirror and flexing their bulky biceps. I ignored the weight-lifting section of the gym and wondered why my body still didn’t look like the women in the fitness magazines.
In December 2012, It made a commitment to changing my body. Like so many others, I resolved to improve my health. I wanted to stop being just a cardio junkie, add strength training to my routine, and not let the men at the gym intimidate me any more.
Armed with a commitment to girl power, I took weight lifting classes at my gym to inspire me to adhere to correct form, lift even when I wanted to give up, and fall in love with the strong woman staring back at me from the mirrored group-fitness rooms.
Each dead lift, I became more aware of the muscles in my arms. Every time I lunged, I admired my body’s form. Sitting back into a squat, I saw a strength I’d never seen before.
After almost a year of strength training, here are the reasons I keep going, and why you should join me.
I feel healthy. The strong muscles I developed made me feel powerful, stable, and full of energy. Strength training also has significant health benefits. Weight lifting reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. It also fights depression and anxiety. In the past year I’ve left my job, moved across the state of North Carolina, and gone back to school. I believe lifting weights contributed to my mental and emotional strength to conquer life changes with grace.
I feel feminine. People seem shocked when I tell them I lift weights because I look feminine. Women often avoid resistance training because they’re afraid of looking “bulky” or “manly.” Somehow in our gender-confused society strength and muscle tone became a masculine trait. It takes an incredible amount of weight lifting, and sometimes pills and injections, to look like a competitive body builder, not a basic weight-training routine. My curves are only made more dangerous by my muscles.
I feel peaceful. I tune out the rest of the world when I lift, only focusing on the weight in my hand and the music in my ears. I feel one with my body, completely aware of the muscle fibers contracting. The stress of the day is gone. I’m focusing on the one person who can help me overcome every problem I’ve ever had – myself.