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Strength-training is incredibly important: it builds muscle, ups strength, burns fat and jumpstarts the metabolism. Yet, despite all the benefits that come from it, the majority of female clients who approach me for guidance don’t incorporate resistance-training into their practice. Instead, they rely solely on cardio to achieve their fitness goals… and consistently find they come up short.
So, why all the resistance towards resistance? For some women, it’s as simple as feeling like a beginner: to work out, you’re expected to already be in shape, right? For others, the sight of free-weights invokes visions of Rambo’s massive arms gyrating while shooting an M60… they don’t want to bulk up. While these are reasons I regularly encounter, I believe that the biggest factor as to why women aren’t strength-training is because they feel unskilled on the machines, and are afraid of being laughed out of the room like Carrie at the prom. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I understand. I don’t want to look stupid either.
In the interest of achieving better results, let’s debunk some myths about strength-training for women, and take a step closer to better fitness.
MYTH #1: YOU HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT TO USE THE EQUIPMENT
Everybody at the gym is in great shape already, right? It’s important to remember that we all start somewhere. That “somewhere” also refers to the place we train. I have always felt that there is a difference between the word “gym” and the word “studio.” To me, a gym is a place where individuals go to exercise on their own. It is a place where you often find members meandering around on their own, feeling lost, and lacking guidance. A studio, however, is a place where people are part of a group. There is a communal experience that occurs in a studio. This is because a studio is a place where you practice your craft. I.E. An art studio. A music studio. A dance studio. A Karate studio. It is a place for innovation and artistic approach. What a fitness studio also offers is a community of support. It is a group experience that provides a space where we’re all in this together. You don’t have to be an expert to start strength- training, you can rely on you instructors and your peers.
MYTH # 2: STRENGTH-TRAINING WILL MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE THE HULK
In my two decades of personal training experience, the most common reason I’ve heard from women as to why they don’t strength-train is that they don’t want to bulk up. Saying you don’t want to look like The Incredible Hulk is a socially safe answer. When in fact, that simply isn’t going to happen. How many women do you actually see walking around who look like Mr. Universe? What a well-designed resistance-training program will do is strengthen and tone muscle, trim body fat, improve cognitive function, and boost energy. Unfortunately, a large open space full of confusing machines can be scary. Especially when walking onto a gym floor feels like having to follow Kristi Yamaguchi onto the ice to perform a double toe-loop for the judges.
MYTH #3: TRYING SOMETHING NEW WILL PUSH BACK THE PROGRESS I’VE ALREADY MADE
Trying anything new can be intimidating, but by constantly doing things you never thought possible, your confidence grows. I am not a professional writer and sitting in this chair is new and intimidating for me, but by thinking about how my experience may help you to enjoy a healthier life it makes this blinking cursor is a little less daunting. Entering a gym, being surrounded by machines that look like they were designed in the Tower of London and men making scary grunting sounds, can be off-putting. It’s a whole lot easier to hop on a treadmill or stationary bike and keep doing what we’re used to. But here’s the thing about running on a treadmill -- you’re going nowhere. You may be burning calories, but you’re not challenging your status quo, and the body has to be consistently challenged to change. If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.
Ultimately, the benefits of trying something new often far outweigh the risk. As your comfort builds, so will your confidence. By incorporating strength-training into your life, you will tone your muscles, improve bone density, increase your metabolism, burn more fat, and have more energy throughout the day. I developed the Lagree Fitness Method so men and women could build strength, endurance, and flexibility throughout their entire body, but most importantly, I wanted to create an environment where feeling like you don’t belong is one of the first things you lose. Try it and see. Nobody is going to laugh at you.