Updated: Mar 4
Research shows that more females are weight training to achieve strong, toned and fit physiques. With its many benefits, such as burning fat and decreasing the loss of muscle (which can lead to sagging skin), why are there still so many women reluctant to try it?
When I tell women that doing press up can give you a free breast lift, they are always game. The chest muscle gets little—if any—attention by a lot of females and is often neglected. Just because you have breasts it doesn’t mean you don’t have to work those pecs. If you spend a lot of time at a desk slouching, you will shorten your chest muscles and lengthen your back. You need to balance your back and front, so they are equally upright for great posture.
Thing is, how do you safely begin if you don’t know anything about bodyweight training or weightlifting? 1 in 4 women suffer from “gym-intimidation” this is the fear of being judged at the gym. Many men don’t even lift weights correctly but being the often more self-assured sex, they dive right in even if their technique is wrong and reckless. I have men come and train with me to learn how to do exercises and train correctly and they learn how to push themselves to their full potential with correct technique and good habits while avoiding injury.
Your weights should be challenging but you shouldn’t compromise your form while lifting them. Dumbbells that are far too heavy will have you swinging your body to lift the weight, this will distribute the effort to numerous muscle groups, sharing the load will reduce the targeted muscles contribution to the exercise and therefore be less effective. Lightening the load to the point that you feel no resistance is unlikely to give you results so it’s a matter of balance.
For the past two years I’ve chosen to train my clients outdoors. As a green trainer promoting the benefits of outdoors exercise it’s my speciality. Equally, weight training became my focal point more than weight loss because of my connection to how it turned my own life around. When it comes to women, I train them to have a strong mindset, take up the space they deserve, be proud, powerful and have confidence. If they put in the work, they can transform their everyday lives and the way people respond to them, these are the tools I learnt myself and I pass on to them.
A little background from my life:I used to hate my body but particularly my arms. At the time of feeling most insecure I was in my early- twenties living in East London as an artist. My artwork was described as “edgy, stylistic paintings – focusing on marginalised, controversial subcultures, gender and sexuality”. I Identified as a lesbian, which wasn’t as accepted in the workplace as it is now, it came with its own challenges. I had an androgynous appearance. I was part of a scene where identity and how you projected yourself made you popular, interesting or acceptable. I lived right in the hub of the creative buzz in Bethnal Green with my girlfriend of the time. I was also feeling uncomfortable in myself and with my gender identity. I worked multiple dead-end jobs to subsidise my income where the rent fell short.
I tried to be true to my identity and question the most basic social constructs of gender norms even in traditional Motorcycle clubs, retails stores and mechanic workshops where I worked. This wasn’t in a confrontational manner but rather by making myself an exception to the societal norm wherever I could. For example: my identity was aligned more with the masculine sleeveless muscle tanks rather than the pink, cropped, company branded t-shirts in womenswear.
Photo: 3 photos from my time as an artist, beginning my training and my first photoshoot.
I took this philosophy with me when I started training. The trepidation I felt that first time when I was the only female weightlifting in a room full of men, was short lived. I actually got a buzz showing off how well I knew the equipment, swapping exercises with the men at the gym and seeing my results. I no longer felt weak and scrawny. My arms started to become more muscular and when your body feels strong from head to toe you talk differently and walk differently. You hold your head high. Confidence is very sexy and so it makes sense to start getting strong and building your muscles, to make yourself stand out. An interesting fact is that, on average it takes a person about 7 seconds to form an opinion of another person, so the way you project yourself can either make you or break you.