Don’t tell women to stop lifting weights because of your own insecurities
It’s been a while since a wrote a post on this blog and you know, that’s OK. I’m not the kind of person to live my life on social media.
Since I last wrote, I’ve quit my full-time career in market/survey research and become a full-time CrossFit trainer. I know, how millennial of me. It makes me really happy, and even though I’m making just over half of what I used to make, at least I don’t wake up every morning pounding my mattress and saying, “NO NO I DON’T WANNA” when it comes to going to work. Even when I’m getting up at 3 a.m. to go teach a 5 a.m. class.
Living the dream.
But I have to get something off my chest. Many things, actually, since I’ve become a coach in a world dominated by men, as many domains are. One thing in particular.
If you know a woman who is involved in CrossFit, or lifting, or fitness in general, STOP TELLING HER TO STOP.
I can’t tell you how many women I’ve interacted with who have started CrossFit for the purposes of living a healthier life, only to be told by her friends and family that she needs to stop. Maybe it’s because she might “get bulky”. Or she’s “lifting more than the boys.” Or that “women don’t need muscles.” But here in 2017, women are still being told that they should not be doing things to make them physically stronger.
WHAT. THE. FUCK. IS. THIS. SHIT.
We have a lot of (hetero) guys in the gym who are really passionate about CrossFit and weightlifting and I often ask them, “Hey, what about your (wife/significant other/partner)? Would she be into coming here?” The answer I get more often than not is, “Well, she likes working out and she does (SoulCycle/Pilates/barre/something else) but she doesn’t want to get bulky.”
This is some bullshit.
(Interesting side note: when it’s a non-hetero guy, a lot of the time their longtime partners are totally into CrossFit or are at least willing to try it with them)
So I’ve been doing CrossFit for over 5 years and I am 5’1″, 113 pounds and definitely not bulky. OK, so I might have the traces of a six-pack and more muscle definition than I did when I was actually trying to be a bodybuilder/figure model in my teens/20s, but yeah, *so* not bulky. I don’t think there’s a single woman in our gym that would fall under the “bulky” label. Even so, what’s the problem with bulky? Eeeek, a woman with muscles. SO FUCKING WHAT.
I’d rather be bulky AF and healthy and fit than thin and not be able to go up two flights of stairs without getting out of breath or unable to carry my groceries home.
Another thing I’ve been seeing a lot of is women in our gym being actively discouraged from working out by important people in their lives. The women post a photo or a video on social media of themselves hitting an awesome PR and the comments are along the lines of, “STOP. That’s enough of that.” “Scary!”
Would you tell someone who has run a 10K to stop, that’s enough running for now? That’s enough yoga for you? Stop it, you’re scaring me with that savasana?!
I’m thinking no.
Would you say that to a man posting the same thing on social media?
I’m thinking no.
“That’s enough weightlifting for you, sir.” Said no one on social media, ever.
MY MUSCLES HAVE PURPOSE AND THEY HELP MAKE ME BETTER AT LIFE. Why would you want to discourage that? What is wrong with you?
Women can’t win. We can’t be fat or else we get told to lose weight. We’re too skinny and we get told to eat a sandwich. But if we try to take steps to be healthier, we get warned about the dangers of being bulky or told to lay off the weights. God forbid you not be sexy enough for the male gaze or at all threaten the masculinity of any of the menz out there by lifting more than them. How dare you try to be stronger. How dare you try to better yourself. Know your place, woman.
What message are we sending women by discouraging them from lifting weights? Be weak. Be passive. Don’t threaten the men. KNOW YOUR PLACE.
You can’t call yourself a feminist if you aren’t OK with women bettering themselves physically as well as mentally and emotionally.
We carry so much of the load emotionally. I’m not going into that because it’s been done before. Why can’t we carry some of the physical load? Does “carry that weight” apply only to men?
As a closing anecdote, let me tell you about an incident that happened a couple of weeks ago. UPS delivered a package to the gym I work at. The guy dropped it off at the top of the stairs with a huge heaving sigh. I signed for it. The guy said, “Careful, it’s heavy.” I took a long look at him and said, “I work at a gym. Don’t worry, I got this.” And I picked it up without a problem and carried it downstairs while he gaped at me easily handling the box he’d struggled with.
Ladies. Don’t worry. We got this.