Do you, for you.

Hannah Purkapile

Three SPASH students in the weight room.

Most women are scared, nervous, or even petrified to step foot in a gym. Every gym I have walked into has always been male dominated. Women worry they are being watched or have the wrong form. It is a stereotype that guys at the gym lift heavy weights, and girls tone for the male gaze. This stereotype is inaccurate, women can lift just as heavy as men if they train. Although lifting can cause a big change in the way your body structure looks, so can your diet. 

Why do these feelings occur? Judgement. Many women worry that if they lift heavy they will become too bulky. This is false information and sorry ladies but toning is also not affecting your structure either. Studies have shown that lifting heavy weights, and eating right will help you get the body you want versus doing cardio every day. Take the average woman for example. Working with a trainer weekly, doing heavy weight lifting, and eating the right foods, will not allow you to become bulky. However, what you will achieve is a more lean, and defined body shape. The result of moderate weight training is losing fat, and developing muscle tone. Building muscle can increase your resting metabolic rate and enable your body to keep burning calories when at rest. With exercise, you want to focus on form, and compound exercises. Compound lifting is a term used to describe a style of training that integrates movements to stress multiple muscle groups at one time. Most compound lifts involve two to three joints that are being manipulated by muscle tissue; such as the hips, knees, and ankles in the squat, or the shoulders and elbows in the bench press. 

When speaking to Kenzie Bierman, Junior at SPASH, she explained “I always get worried when people that are experienced lifters are laughing at me when I am trying my best.” This statement was also stated by Kenzie Mayer, and Caitlin Wanichek, Seniors at SPASH. The New York Times has shown 87% of experienced lifters do not pay attention to your workout because they are busy with their own workout. Don’t be afraid to ask those around you for advice because the 13% of people who glance at you while working out, want to help and give advice. We all have to start somewhere. 

What you eat is your result physically and mentally. As I interviewed Caitlin Wanichek said “I want to see changes as I workout but I can’t figure out how to eat right.” This is a huge step in progress while trying to see change but it becomes the most difficult part. No one wants to stop eating unhealthy foods completely so to help we call this moderation. Moderation is a word that will help you in lifting and eating. Moderation is the process of eliminating or lessening extremes. If you want a slice of pizza, have a slice but don’t eat the whole pizza and maybe have a side salad to go with it.

As a beginner you don’t have to focus on calorie deficit right away you just have to focus on proteins. Women like to believe they will grow from having a salad every day and running on the treadmill, this will make your results come slower and your mentality weakens. I cannot stress enough how important protein is after lifting weights because the building blocks of protein help repair and maintain muscle tissue. After a workout, protein helps you recover from workouts because muscles slightly tear during exercise. Protein packed meals and snacks will help you avoid sugary and processed foods. It’s also a benefit to your mental health. The Nutrition Sample explains foods rich in protein contain amino acids to help produce key cells in your brain preventing depression and anxiety. You control the right to your diet through your mentality. 

Lastly, we all know after a grueling day the last thing you want is to go to the gym and workout. Motivation is a key strength in increasing your health and physical structure. The days you feel like you just don’t want to go or don’t have time are the days you need to go the most. Kenzie Bierman, Kenzie Mayer and Caitlin Wanichek, Students of SPASH, all agreed “It is hard to keep motivation.” One of the biggest benefits will be consistently going. Holding yourself accountable such as putting on a sweatshirt or a pair of yoga pants is even more important than heading out the door to go to the gym. 

Research has suggested that our brains are susceptible to dressing comfortably to help fuel your ambition to complete a chosen task. If you’re in full workout gear, you’re far more likely to head out the door. Another way to help determine yourself is to visualize success and change your routine. Even if you’re a creature of habit, repeating the same exercises over and over can become monotonous. To avoid boredom, try re-arranging their order of workouts such as an incline bench press, for example, instead of a flat bench. By switching things up, you’ll keep both your body and mind invested in the activity. Then when you start to see results you will become addicted to seeing them and feeling proud of yourself. People will compliment you and tell you you’re looking great but deep down only you will understand the sweat and tears you put in for yourself. Kenzie Mayer spoke to me saying “It is hard to make time for the gym when I already have dance, school and work.” I completely agree with her that it is difficult to make time but that is another reason why it is worth pushing yourself for. It creates discipline. 

You make time for what is worth your time and step one of all of this is yourself. Getting up and showing up for yourself starts with you. Men can push themselves and become strong, but women are just as strong and empowering. Fear is just another word for excuses. At the end of this I hope you feel the urge to get up and put yourself out there.