Three years ago, I started working out on a regular basis. I joined an all women gym. This is not Curves, where they have a limited number of machines and put you through a circuit for 30 minutes. This is a small gym, but it had cardio machines, weight machines and classes. Sure it did not have the variety of 24 Hr Fitness, but you only need a few basic items to get into shape.
Women and cardio
Previously, when I had access to a gym, I usually stuck with the cardio machines. They were less intimating and felt “safe” with mostly women around me.
The weight machines and the free weights were usually in it own area, away from the cardio machines, and full of big guys (I’m only 5’2”).
This unknown territory with the big mirrors make me uncomfortable because it reminds me of how ignorant I am of the human body. It has its own language of “sets” and “reps” that I did not understand. However, I have always been intrigue with strength training.
An intro to strength training
It all started with my friend, Anna, in college. One day I made the fortunate mistake of agreeing to work out with her at the campus gym. I figure we will be heading straight to the cardio machines like I normally do.
Instead, we stayed in the women’s locker room the entire hour, using the wooden bench to work the entire body. We did squats, lunges, bench presses, etc. By the time we were done, my body felt like jello and it ached the next three days! In hindsight, I wonder why we never made it out to the free weight area of the gym. Maybe the men also intimated Anna as well, even though it was clear to me that she know what she was doing with those dumbbells.
It was my first experience with weights and it felt good. It made me feel strong. It felt like I am actually doing something that might change my body instead of just burning off that candy bar. Immensely more useful and worthwhile than just cardio (at that time I was not overweight and slender even for a college kid). You would think after a wonderful experience like this, I would continue to seek it out. But I did not. Anna graduated before I did. And I never felt comfortable enough to do strength training on my own.
An all women’s gym changed my view on strength training forever
A few years later, when I joined the all women’s gym, I shuffled over to the cardio machines again on a regular basis. I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted, but I did it anyway to burn out the pounds I had packed on from a desk job. I tried to limit my calories, but I do not like to diet. I was getting discouraged.
By chance, I went to the gym on a Saturday and there was an instructor who announced that the weight lifting class will start in 15 minutes as I was walking out of the locker room. I took a spot in the middle of the group, but I was not afraid. There were women around me that had 1 pound dumbbells and others with 10 pounders. I did not feel out of place with my 3 pounds and 5 pounds dumbbells.
The instructor was in her fifties at the time and looked great! I don’t think I would have the nerve to even try strength training again if it was at a co-ed gym.
I know it is all in my head and the guys are not even paying attention. Trust me, I had repeated that last line many times and in many situations, but when you are uncomfortable it is pointless. I have to remove the factor that makes a situation uncomfortable for me in order to proceed. Since that day, strength training became an important component of my fitness routine.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.
Photo by: rick.
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