The free-weights area of the local gym is often a complete mystery for women. They steal a glance at the rows of dumbbells and weight benches and other various forms of torture and wonder how anyone has any clue what to do with all of that stuff. Many women are intimidated by the equipment, the room, and the sheer ratio of men versus women. The sight of a massive, muscle clad man with protruding neck veins holding dumbbells the size of Bassett Hounds in each hand does not exactly send the warmest welcome to the average woman. These sights, although rare, fuel the misconceptions that many women have about weight lifting.
Enhancing Health and Beauty
By Julianne Hale
David Duford, owner of BodyELITE Personal Training, deals with these misconceptions on a regular basis. He explains, “Unfortunately, over the years, there has been this belief that weight training causes you to gain muscle and look like a muscle bound female bodybuilder. In my experience, the number of people that turn out to look like a body builder is very small. On the contrary, weight training actually enhances the natural femininity of women.”
In addition to enhancing the body in a positive way, weight lifting has many health benefits. Daniel Robins, a personal trainer at North River YMCA, explains some of these benefits, “In the short term, weight lifting burns calories, it causes your body to release endorphins, encourages healthy eating habits, and promotes weight loss. In the long term, weight lifting can prevent heart disease and bone density loss.”
There are some other direct benefits that are noticeable shortly after a training routine begins. Teresa Wade, Director of Operations at the Sports Barn, elaborates, “Many women who begin strength training will come back with comments about how much easier everything seems to be. Some examples are bringing in groceries, picking up kids, yard work, house cleaning, etc. … .” So, if you are doing cardio regularly but haven’t added weight training to your routine, there is no time like the present. Weight training needs to be an integral part of any well-balanced fitness routine.
If you are like many women and are ready to begin weight training but don’t know where to start, fear not. Teresa Wade advises, “Young women should start with body weight exercises in their teens and then continue with these and then add in weights once their bones are formed. This type of program should be maintained for life. However, it is never too late to start. At any age, a person can pick this up at some level.” Whether you are 15 or 75, starting a weight training plan is beneficial and can make a major difference in your life.
Women in all stages of life can take advantage of the many benefits that weight lifting offers. Pregnant women, for example, can maintain their previous weight lifting routine. This may run contrary to the widely held belief that women should “take it easy” during pregnancy but that is not always the case. David Duford explains, “For pregnant women, the goal is to protect the baby so precautions must be taken. If you’ve been weight training prior to getting pregnant, continue with your program. You may want to cut down on the intensity but you can still experience the benefits of a good weight training workout.” After the baby is born, young mothers can increase the intensity of their weight training work out and reap great benefits. They will find it easier to lose the baby weight and get their pre-pregnancy bodies back. In addition, young mothers are often surprised by just how much stuff the new baby prompts them to carry. Toned, strong arms come in handy for lugging around all of that cumbersome baby gear.
One of the more serious ramifications of menopause and aging in women is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a thinning of the bones that can cause painful fractures for women who are affected by this condition. The good news is that osteoporosis is treatable. Calcium and vitamin D are very important components in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, but weight training can also have a dramatic impact on the condition. David Duford explains, “If women weight train the correct way, they can actually rebuild the thickness of their bones and literally reverse osteoporosis.” Women who have already experienced the devastating effects of osteoporosis can take action now to reverse it and those fortunate enough to have strong, healthy bones can prevent it simply by adding a comprehensive weight lifting routine to their workout.
The free weight area of the local gym may seem daunting at first. However, with a personal trainer to explain the proper use of the equipment and outline a program catered to your individual needs, you’ll become a toned, healthy staple in the free weight area and an example for weight-training-challenged women everywhere.
Julianne Hale and her family reside in Cleveland. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Illinois State University and then an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Julianne is a member of the Chattanooga Writers Guild, is married, and has two children.