As you walk up the stairs that lead you to the second floor of the Rec Center on CSU’s campus, your heart-rate begins to quicken.
Will today be the day that you finally walk into the weight room, or will you bail at the last minute and begin walking behind the brick wall that separates you from the monsters in the weight room?
Will you even come close to the weight room or will you stick to the first floor cardio equipment and the less equipped free-weight area?
There has been too many incidents in where I am talking to a fellow woman who works out regularly, and does more than just stay on the elliptical for twenty minutes. However she avoids the weight room like the plague day after day in the gym.
When I ask why out of general concern, I usually get a response along the lines of, “It is too intimidating in there,” or “I feel like they are all judging me,” and sometimes even “I don’t want to be the only girl in there”.
I tend to take a long pause and say in my most empathetic voice, “I can understand where you’re coming from, BUT…”
A long rant usually follows that “but”, and it goes a little something like this:
First of all, I understand that you are intimidated when working out in the weight room. Especially when the guy next to year is doing 120 lb shoulder presses with ease, and you are struggling to get up 20 lb.’s. His strength is intimidating to you and perhaps even his physical size, although have you had a conversation with him? Have you gotten to know who is behind that iron-pumping monster? Have you heard his story of where he started and how at one point he was lifting as much weight as you are now? People are intimidating sure, but there is much more to people than we think. Take a moment and step out of your comfort zone to get to know who is behind that guy who is pressing your body weight in one hand. Trust me, become his friend now, you will want him spotting you when you try to hit a new max.
You are worried about being judged whether it be for how you look, what you wear, or what you are doing while working out. From someone who once was concerned about these things, take this advice and run with it: no one is going to judge you. If you would get out of your head for one minute and look around, you will see a plethora of interestingly dressed macho-men, the girl in squat rack dancing by herself (usually that is me), and even the guy checking himself out for a longer time than is considered acceptable. Anything and anyone goes in the weight room, and it is known that this is how the environment is.
Now that that concern has be relieved, you’re still worried about doing something wrong.
What a better place in the world to make a mistake or ask a question as you are surrounded by experts that know how to fix your form or suggest a new more effective workout for you. Sure, it can be awkward asking for help or advice, but when I say that the people who work out regularly love to talk about working out and giving advice, I mean it. They would not be that dedicated to a lifestyle if they were not passionate about it, so ask your questions and ask for help, you might just find the answer that changes your life.
As a woman who understands the stigma and extent of gender issues in the workforce, salaries, social stereotypes, and unfairness of how women are treated in this world, how can you turn a blind eye to a fight you can be apart of? Be the only woman in the weight room, and hold your head up high. Do not lower your gaze to the ground and walk out with shame and embarrassment, stand confidently and demand respect. We all want to see change, but change cannot happen based upon one person’s actions, but rather on each of us taking a small step towards the change we want to see.