This is a guest post by Josh Hanagarne of World’s Strongest Librarian and The Strength Rules. Josh is a heartfelt ambassador of strength and here he provides yet more positive ammunition in the war against weakness! Read on and be inspired.
I live in America. I like it, but in my opinion, we do not pressure our women into being strong and confident.
When I scan the magazine racks at the grocery store or the dentist’s office, the pictures suggest that we value two things in our women: breasts and razor sharp clavicles. Well, three things: STDs seem to get a lot of press as well…good grief.
You might call it a wretched case of extremely backwards priorities. The heartbreaker for me is so many of the girls I know, including my own sisters, buy into the stereotypes. In fact, they aspire to them in some cases.
Tuesday night kettlebell class
Every Tuesday night I teach a kettlebell training for beginners class. (I also throw in a bunch of other stuff, but it’s called a kettlebell class.) It’s basically a “get really strong” class. 90 per cent of my students are female. When they first meet me, we shake hands, exchange names, and then they immediately tell me how weak and out of shape they are. I show them the kettlebells and demonstrate movements with a light weight.
“Oh, I can’t do that.”
When I tell them that we’re going to do deadlifts they often say “Oh, I’m not in shape enough to do that” or “My back can’t handle that.” My response to these questions is always gentle, but pointed: “Says who?” Most of the time these lovely people can’t figure out where they got these silly notions. It’s because women are taught to underestimate themselves. It sinks in and they start to believe it.
Slowly my class has become – I don’t advertise it this way – my lab for the sole purpose of making women stronger without them realizing it.
Required pressing, required reading
Three months ago I began with a class of eight women. Every single one of them told me that they did not want to press overhead because it would give them big shoulders. In the second week I taught them the kettlebell press and the bottoms up press (turning the kettlebell upside down).
I now begin every class with everyone working on their favorite movement for ten minutes. Every single one of those women chooses the press nine times out of ten now. Some of them are pressing more than the men I see in the gym. Nothing makes me happier. There is nothing more fun for me than when the light flashes in their eyes and they realize I can do this. It’s the same process as the I’m-weak indoctrination, but in reverse: it sinks in and they start to believe it. And when they start to believe it, do not get in their way.
At the end of my classes, I write this URL on the board: http://gubernatrix.co.uk/. It is all that I do for required reading. I even make the men read it, which they are usually happy to do, especially when they realize that Gubernatrix is way stronger than they are. Good information is good information. And that’s all I am trying to give these women.
The change doesn’t occur because I am a genius or because I know something about strength training for females that nobody else does: it’s simply because I say the opposite of what society usually says.
1. Gain 10 lbs of muscle and you will be sexier than you can imagine
2. Lift as heavy as you (safely) can and you will be more confident
4. Ignore your clavicles (most men aren’t looking at them)
5. Being strong does not mean sacrificing femininity
6. I know a five-foot-nothing homecoming queen who deadlifts 315 [143kg]
7. When someone tells you what you “should” be doing, ask yourself why
8. If you are not getting the results you want, something needs to change
9. You are stronger than most men I know
10. Perceptions will only change if enough of us work together to change them
It won’t happen fast, but it can happen. Every time I step into my class there are more women in it. It is because word gets around that it is fun to be strong. That there are people out there who say that women aren’t supposed to be weak, submissive, and that clavicles are seriously overrated.
Go get ’em.
More from gubernatrix
- Ladies who lift
- Strong is beautiful
- A girl’s guide to choosing a kettlebell
- The toning problem: why women are missing out when it comes to weight training
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