“The Closet in The Changing Room: Coming Out in Sport”
So we’ve probably all been there at some point. As soon as you get into the gym you mindlessly wonder over to treadmill, dreading the next twenty minutes of your life. Twenty minutes that could have been spent on better things, like eating, binge watching tv, basically anything that doesn’t leave you unnaturally red and sweating profusely. Even so, most of us do it anyway, focusing on the number of calories burnt rather than improving workouts, and you know, actually enjoying ourselves!
This is not to say cardio isn’t good for you, it is. Having turned to the dark (and lazier) side of power-lifting I am the first to admit I need more cardio in my life. But if you go into the gym everyday and do the same thing, you will eventually get bored. To get the most from exercise you need commitment, and the last thing people want to commit to is something so boring you actually dread doing. Instead, if you change up your routine, find new things you love, the gym will no longer seem like a chore and you’ll wonder why you ever dreaded going at all.
This happened to me the day I decided to move on from endless treadmill runs and try lifting weights. I dared crossing the imaginary line leading into the grunting and testosterone packed weights section, but fear not, this uncharted territory is far less scary once you’re in it. Looking around, you realise everyone is actually there for themselves. Most people are too worried about what they’re doing to notice you. (Or they’re too busy taking gym selfies). That guy who you think keeps staring at you in the mirror? Probably checking himself out. Even if people do stare, they are probably just admiring the fact you have had the confidence to lift weights, and get stronger!
If you’re still worried about entering the weights section, just go prepared! Look up weighted moves on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram. There are tons of accounts that can give you inspiration and tips for starting off lifting. The fitness industry has taken off in the last few years, with #girlsthatlift now claiming over two and a half million posts on Instagram. Don’t be afraid that lifting weights will make you bulky, or manly, or whatever else 19th century insults people throw around. Anyone uncomfortable with it obviously lives under a rock because not only should girls lifting weights be seen as ordinary, but with ever-growing enthusiasm, its now really popular. Another thing you can do if you’re a bit unsure of what to do is ask a friend with a bit of experience to come with you. That way they can show you the ropes, so that next time you go to the gym you can enter the weights section with confidence, knowing you look like a bad-ass.
Still not convinced? Consider the physical benefits of lifting weights. Running on a treadmill, albeit great for your cardiovascular fitness, only burns calories when you’re running (unless you’re doing HIIT, which is another story). Lifting weights, on the other hand, builds up muscle which increases your metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories at rest after your session. Sounds great right? What’s better is the more muscle you gain the more energy your body needs to fuel it everyday = more food yay! If it’s weight loss you’re after, this is also an effective long term strategy, as muscle burns more calories. Not to mention the physical “GAINZ” you can get from lifting. I mean, who doesn’t want to banish bingo wings for good or get a peachy bum?
So, whatever your end goal, lifting weights can be beneficial to everyone. And there are so many approaches to lifting, you have to give it a try at least once. You may prefer using lighter weights for higher reps, or the reverse, you may love lifting heavy and pushing yourself on new levels. Regardless of your approach, it’s a brilliant way to get out of that mindless cardio bunny rut, and to start appreciating how strong and capable your body is. Be fearless, and enter that weights section.
Written by Stephanie Hall, 11 months ago