I have a confession to make.
You know that part of the gym where they keep the weights? Where all those grunting men are pumping iron?
I think of it as The Boy Zone, and it intimidates the hell out of me.
You see, I have spent a lifetime gleefully cultivating my girly-girl femininity. I grew up emulating Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, and Brigitte Bardot. Today, I buy anything with Princess Kate on the cover. You get the idea.
I don’t know about your gym, but when you walk into mine, the gender division is pretty blatant. Almost all of the women are on cardio machines, while the weight training areas are Testosterone Central.
So, as a newcomer to the gym world, I kept myself in my girly lane. I only used the gym for cardio. I worked with weights when I got home and no one was watching.
It’s ridiculous, but I had myself convinced that being seen lifting weights would somehow diminish my femininity.
My silly little gender role snow globe was due for a good shake.
First, I actively considered venturing into Testosterone Central. When I did, I heard a small inner voice saying ‘that’s not for you – it’s not for girls.’
As soon as I heard that voice, my bigger, stronger, Mama Tiger voice kicked in and whooped that little voice’s ass.
Here’s why: TRY to tell my daughter that she can’t or shouldn’t do something because she’s a girl and the thing she wants to try is just for boys. Go ahead and try. I will rain down protective maternal fury that will scorch the earth, I swear.
My daughter can reach for any stars in the sky and nobody better come at her with any toxic cultural BS.
So why don’t I apply that same mentality to myself?? How can I model equality if I don’t walk the walk?
Come on, Mama Tiger – go lift weights!
Um… ok… yeah, that’s totally legit. I’ll get right on that. Just, um… not today. Today’s… busy… and stuff. I’ll be Power Woman tomorrow.
Tomorrow came, and it brought the final push that I needed.
I was back at the gym, back on my cardio machine, when a woman I know walked in. Our kids go to nursery school together. She lives in my ‘intimidatingly pretty’ mental category. There is no deficit of femininity in this woman.
Did she take a sharp right and jump on a cardio machine like a good girl? Hell no. This chick marched her ass right over to the Boy Zone and grabbed some metal. She did pull-ups! She worked with a barbell! I was floored.
I know I’m a terrible feminist for even admitting these things, but seeing a woman whose image was already set in my mind as a ‘pretty girl’ in that part of the gym was something I needed.
When I told her I was inspired, she said she just doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. She’s there to get strong, so that’s what she’s going to do.
Badass! I love it! I want to be like that!
So, last week I marched my ultra-femme behind right into the middle of it all. I did squat presses. I did deadlifts with hammer curls. I sweated and I pushed, and I got a damn good workout.
I exercised my body and I expanded my comfort zone. I killed another ‘can’t’, and it feels b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
Up next: Learning to deal with the gawking of pubescent boys. Can’t say I’m a fan of the attention that I attract as the woman doing squats in boy land.
Sidebar/Update: 3 weeks off of the scale! Not weighing myself seems to be kicking my workouts up to the next level. I am combining cardio and weight training every day. It’s driven by a fear of the unknown, but I’ll take it!