Ever since I began making fitness a priority in my life, and spend a significant amount of time at the gym per week, my friends have taken to asking me for help with their own fitness. That could be anything from advice on workouts, to nutrition, to actually going to the gym with them. I think it’s AMAZING, and I love being able to share some of the things I have learned over the past few years. However, there’s one common theme that I’ve noticed, and is worth addressing.
Most of my friends are girls, and there are several preconceived notions about women in the gym that cause this little phenomenon that I like to call, “gymtimidation”. Gymtimidation is when someone, it doesn’t have to be a woman, is intimidated by the gym. That is totally normal.
What I have noticed, however, is that there is a common trend among women to be intimidated by lifting weights/ the weight room in general. They fear weights because (this sounds very generalized and stereotypical, I know, but bear with me here):
- They don’t want to go into the weight room and be “judged” by big, bulky, (mostly) men who “know what they’re doing”. They don’t want to potentially make a fool of themselves.
- They don’t want to lift weights because they think that doing so will make them no longer look feminine.
Both of these are understandable, but wrong.
First of all, nobody actually cares that much. I don’t say that to be harsh, but it’s true. Most of the time when you go into the weight room, everyone is doing their own thing. If it seems like someone is staring, or judging you, or both, nine times out of ten, they’re not. Most of the time, in between sets I will stare off into space. If you happen to be in my line of vision when I decide to zone out, then it may seem like I’m staring at you. But, like most people, I’m not. If someone really has a problem with the way that you’re performing an exercise, they’ll correct you. But, that’s rare. My advice—put your headphones in, get in the zone, and do you.
Second, weight lifting does not, I repeat, NOT make women bulk up in the same way that men do. Ladies, picking up a weight WILL NOT cause you to lose your feminine figure. In fact, it will enhance it.
The bulk associated with weight lifting has to do with hormones. Because women don’t have as much testosterone as men do, we naturally can only “bulk” so much. The intimidating images of women who are ridiculously large are often a product of steroids and a very specific diet.
The truth is that weight lifting is actually very good for fat loss. What it comes down to is metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. This means your metabolism will be much faster, and your body will be much more efficient the more muscle you have.
Despite popular opinion, weight lifting is the key to getting the muscle definition that many women want. Not only that, but it’ll make you feel like a total badass, and rock your confidence.
Don’t let "gymtimidation" keep you from trying weight lifting if it’s something you’re interested in. Get a friend to do it with you! Be careful though, side effects WILL include increased confidence, a new appreciation for hard work, and a greater love for your body.