Blog Archives

Man up and lift like a lady

Alright, ladies, this one’s for you.

Photo by Greg Westfall

Photo by Greg Westfall

Let me start off by saying I completely understand the apprehension you might feel about even the idea of starting a rigorous training program like Crossfit. Whether you’re intimidated by the heavy looking weights, the sweaty – often loud – men, or the women who look like they could beat you up, I understand your anxiety; I have been there. In fact, we’ve all been there, because we all had to start somewhere.

Before I started Crossfit, I had a million reasons why I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t like the idea of people watching me attempt to do things I thought my body was incapable of doing. I was afraid of hurting myself, of looking stupid, of doing something wrong, of breathing too hard and everybody hearing – of everything, basically. So I get it.

But if Crossfit has taught me anything it has been to question my assumptions – assumptions about myself and about other people. It has taught me that I can’t know my limits if I don’t test them. It has forced me to reevaluate my ideas about my own strength and my capability to improve, as well as challenged me to question my assumptions about the capability of others. Before Crossfit, when someone I’d never seen work out before would walk into the gym, I would look them up and down and make a quick judgment about what I figured they’d be capable of doing. Not anymore. In the box, we’re all equal. By that I don’t mean that we can are all capable of the same level of work. But we are all capable.

Now, I don’t expect to have won you all over with my attempt at being inspirational, so I’ll try to address some common concerns that seem to exist for most women nervous about starting Crossfit.

“I don’t want to get bulky.”

The truth is you most likely have years of training before you even have to think about becoming “too bulky.” What’s more, it’s basically genetically impossible for you to get unreasonably large without performance-enhancing drugs. You’re not going to look like a female body-builder unless you juice like one, or you’re a direct descendant of Goliath.

“I can’t lift that cause I’m a girl.”

Pish posh. You must lift that cause you’re a girl. That’s right – weight-resistant activity is essential for your health as a woman. It will improve your bone density, cardiac health, and – the best part – will help you lose weight because you will burn a greater amount of calories at rest. Women who lift greatly reduce their risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and even diabetes.

“I just want to be skinny.”

Unless you want to develop an eating disorder, this probably isn’t going to happen, nor should you want it to. Just dropping a lot of weight with a nasty calorie-counting fad diet and doing obscene amounts of cardio is not a healthy way to become fit. In fact, you are far more likely to gain the weight back if you try this because you’re depriving your body of nutrients, and you’re basically guaranteed to crash and burn after you quit. The art of fitness is making a change in your lifestyle, not cycling through various 30-day starvation diets. Don’t worry about being skinny; worry about being healthy, and you will see results. Your body will take care of you if you take care of it.

“I’ve had kids.”

Cool, me too. Next?

“I’m worried about people watching me work out.”

My number one problem before I joined Crossfit. I was the kind of girl who would hang out on the elliptical until the weight room was free because I just felt so uncomfortable knowing people could see me. And I think the main reason for this was because I thought they might think I was doing something wrong.

Crossfit eliminates this problem because it teaches you the right way to lift. You don’t have to worry about people thinking you don’t know what you’re doing, because you will be taught how to lift properly before your first class. As far as having other people watch you goes… yes, they will see you, but I can almost guarantee no one will be focused on watching you. Why? Because everyone is doing the same high intensity workout as you are. Do you really think that while they are busy trying to complete 150 wall-balls for time they are going to be assessing what you are doing? Yeah right. Most of them won’t be able to see you through the sweat dripping into their eyes.

I hope this is helpful to you ladies who are thinking about joining Crossfit. Just know that you are not alone in your anxiety, but also understand that we have all had to start from somewhere. As always, if you have other issues you would like me to address, questions, comments, pictures of you using your kid as a kettlebell, etc., please do not hesitate to respond.

Photo Credit: Greg Westfall, flickr