When you walk into a gym, there are a couple things you will pick up on almost instantly. First, there are treadmills, machines, weights, loud noises, racks, and sweat covering nearly every orifice of the building. Second, you have no idea where to start while you try to figure out what the hell is going on. Third and most important, there is not a single woman in the weight room, and if there is, she is either lifting more than the guys or the pink 5-pound weight. There is genuinely no in between. A couple things to sort out here. Women have every right to be in the weight room as men do. Have you ever seen a woman bench press more than a guy can? Arguably one of the most impressive things you will ever see at the gym. For the random guy who is still reading this article, when a woman walks into a weight room and picks up a 20lbs dumbbell, leave her the fuck alone. She doesn’t need your help and believe me, she doesn’t want it. Now is your cue to find another subject read up on. Leave the heavy lifting for the women. Lastly, you are very wrong if you think the only thing you can handle is the 5lbs pink weight. The number one muscle you are training in the gym is your brain. The brain is more challenging to train than the rest of your muscles put together. This is because every weight you pick up, every time you lean over to set up for a deadlift, this muscle will tell you that you can’t do it. You aren’t good enough to be here, or the weight isn’t heavy enough for you to breathe hard at the end of a set. It’s the same muscle that tells you to take that rest day early because it probably won’t matter in the long run. Don’t listen. You are stronger than you think you are.
If you want to be one of those empowered women at the gym, you gotta have a starting point. There are tons of training options, from running marathons to weightlifting or cross fit. Choose the one that makes you feel the best. The activity you focus on is up to you as the core values of training for anything are entirely up to you.
Before any workout, be sure to stretch it out. Get your muscles warmed up before going into anything crazy. You don’t want to shoot for 5 miles on a track with hamstrings that are tighter than those jeans you wore in 2010. Grab a trusted friend who does the same type of workouts you want to do. If you are weightlifting, what you are checking is how much weight you can do. Most people go into the gym and grab one of the lightest weights because they don’t think they can handle a heavier one. Instead of underestimating yourself, use that friend as a spotter to gauge where you are really at. If neither one of you has spotted before, watch some videos of the correct technique to spot and go from there. I promise you are stronger than you think you are.
After figuring out where your PR (personal record) is, write it down. You should shoot for a PR roughly every other week though some workout routines suggest otherwise. While I am primarily referring to weightlifting, you should shoot for a PR every other week with any physical activity such as cycling, running, rowing, etc. The only thing you should keep in mind is giving yourself days off. Your body is not meant to push for a PR every day. This makes you prone to injury and exhaustion. After determining your PR write down workouts, sets x reps, time, or distance. All of these can be reviewed later to see your progress.
Empowered Women Find Empowered Women
Unfortunately, I believe this should be mentioned to the beautiful women who take a quick peek in a weight training gym and see guys all look like assholes prowling around. You have every right to work alongside gym rats in whatever outfit you decide to put on that morning. Going for a 20lbs barbell instead of an 80 doesn’t make you less strong. If someone is staring at you or making you uncomfortable, look them directly in the eye and ask them what their problem is. You do not need to act small so others feel comfortable. While some will never enter a public gym due to commonly known gym etiquette, all the other women at the gym will embrace you as a fellow empowered woman. Don’t get me wrong, there are many cool guys who understand and care about what women endure in a gym setting. Don’t assume every guy is an ass. Find these people as they will support you for the long haul.
Eating For Success
Food has been a constant problem in our society, mainly resulting from the uprising of social media. If you are doing heavy activity… eat. Eat whatever food you want. If pizza sounds good, it will probably help your muscle recovery. If you want to eat like a bunny, go for it; just make sure you have protein mixed in as well. If you don’t know the fundamentals of food, which most do not see a dietician for a couple months to grasp an understanding of what healthy means for your specific body. Protein powder and lots of water are always a go to. Take care of your body, and your body will take care of you!
Overcome The Excuses
While starting any type of exercise can be challenging, the real challenge is keeping it consistent. Watching empowered women at the gym is a total inspiration. Becoming an empowered woman yourself is a whole other level.