I started my fitness career as a sales person. However, I had a different background than most. And so did my friend Tiffany who was the manager on the days I worked. We both had degrees in psychology. It was an interesting combination (and the two of us working together was too and made for a lifelong friendship but that’s another post). I think we were blessed to be able to see beyond bodies in the door and memberships. And there was a trend I noticed, almost immediately, even though I worked in a women’s only gym.
The weight area was never crowded.
We had awesome classes and our attendance numbers were through the roof. You had to get to class early to get a bench for Body Pump. But you RARELY saw a woman, on her own, doing her thing with some weights. And if you did, she had the three or five pounders. Now I’m not suggesting that it takes a degree to notice this trend but, for me, I really had the heart and background to want to get deeper and it made me want to explore the situation farther instead of just being happy that I didn’t have to re-rack a bunch of weights at the end of the night (but I was indeed grateful).
I thought back to my own experiences to the weight room. I remembered one of the first times I really lifted weights. I had a really cute trainer for a free session (one of the MANY times I joined a gym in an effort to get my life together) and I hurt so bad that I couldn’t even get my hands on the steering wheel when I left. I didn’t feel educated or anything. I didn’t know what to do when he wasn’t with me so I stopped going. I had joined a women’s only gym that had a circuit and a few free weights. My friends and I would go play and that would be about it. I had a membership to a new gym that stayed open 24 hours a day. Before I had children, I’d go at 11 p.m. and play on the treadmill. When I joined the Y and got serious about weights (or I thought I was serious), the girl at the front desk wrote me a program, which I followed faithfully….for SIX months. I never ventured outside of what she had written for me. I never changed my weight. I did lose quite a bit of weight but it was because I was doing other things and changed my eating completely. But pick up one of those weights where the dudes hang out? I don’t think so.
And there you have it. After working with probably (easily) a hundred women or more in the weight room, their responses are the same. It’s not that they DON’T want to lift weights. They are AFRAID.
- Afraid of hurting themselves
- Afraid of being the only female in a male dominated area
- Afraid not knowing what to do/doing the wrong exercise
- Afraid of looking stupid
And my all-time favorite, the one that rattles my nerves the most:
- Afraid of getting bulky
Some of our fears are legitimate. And some of them, well, let’s just say we need a truth intervention.
I know I have clients that will NOT step foot into the weight room unless I am there. It can be intimidating. There are lots of machines and options (something new seems to come out every day). It feels like that ANY TIME we see something new and seemingly big and complex for the first time. Education is the key. Most gyms have staff people who will help explain to you what machines do what for your goals. That’s also why I have a job. However, I want to inform my clients so that when I am NOT there, they know EXACTLY what to do, if they choose. Now, if they are informed and still choose to hold on to the fear, then that’s a bigger issue. And that issue may go a little deeper like just being intimidated by all of the guys in there or just being afraid of failure (a BIG one for a lot of us). So, as an alternative, we go buy 3 and 5 pound weights and decide to work out at home.
I’ll stop here for here for now and pick back up with fear, failure and forgetting comfort and going for it!!!