the joy of strength training


January 22nd, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Why do most women still avoid the free weights room?

This puzzles me because almost every strength website I come across these days has the obligatory “why women should lift weights” article. Yet despite all these attempts at myth-busting, it appears the message isn’t getting through.

Body Pump, a group exercise class involving free weights set to music, seems to be as popular as ever with women, but this enthusiasm doesn’t carry over into the gym proper. In my own gym, Body Pump classes are always full but I don’t see a single participant in the free weights room. They know how to lift the weights, so why don’t they do it outside class?

Some people argue that women are intimidated by the male environment, but this doesn’t seem to be the case in other areas. Both in the workplace and in other exercise environments (such as military fitness classes or running clubs) I have seen plenty of women not at all afraid to mix it up with the blokes. So what’s different about the weights room?

Perhaps there a perception that weightlifting just isn’t particularly elegant and one doesn’t look attractive doing it. But surely there must be plenty of women who find, as I do, the Olympic lifts some of the most elegant movements in sport. And plenty of guys like seeing women squatting or deadlifting, especially the rear view!

Women who enjoy weightlifting – whether Olympic, powerlifting, kettlebells, bodyweight exercises – seem to be few and far between, at least in this country. I get the impression that the United States and Canada are way ahead of the UK in this regard, and organisations like Crossfit seem to be encouraging more women to get used to the idea of being strong.

But are we female weightlifting types just a bit weird? How do we change this status quo? Do we even want to?

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  • 1

    Thanks Sally. My ambition, unlike my ability, is boundless.

    I live in Brighton, and train at my local council-run gym.

    Julie on August 16th, 2013
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