My thirties have been plagued by injury and although I’m more heath conscious than ever, I struggle to find an exercise program that keeps me challenged. The answer came after my third set of injuries, which required me to avoid any activity where my feet are not firmly planted on the floor. No jumping, no stepping, no bouncing, and even walking quickly will trigger a set back. “No worries…” my fitness instructor commented. “You should be building strength by lifting weights.”
I looked around the gym to the weight area, where men of all ages were using free weights and odd-looking machines. Ah…that’s probably not going to happen was my immediate thought. After several conversations, this instructor is VERY persuasive and I was quite desperate, weightlifting was exactly what happened. After two training sessions and a couple of check-ins, I was set to work on a three month strength routine that focused on weights and avoided my leg injury.
After I completed these routines, I found myself frequently reading online and checking out books on strength training at the local library. Throughout the first few months, I was tentative in the very male dominated area of the gym, staying close to circuit machines and incrementally increasing the amount of weight I lifted. After awhile, I became almost fearless. I’m not sure if it’s the hormonal response of lifting or the psychological effects of getting stronger, but I eventually created a comfortable space in my local gym where I un-self-consciously lift weights.
Lately, I wish there were more women interested in lifting. There are a handful of women using the circuit weight machines, although they rarely vary their routine, and seldom break a sweat. I wonder how many believe the myth that the heavier you lift the more bulky you’ll become. The only other woman serious about weightlifting is twenty years younger than me and admittedly prefers spending time with ‘guys’. The health benefits of strength training seem tailor-made for women. Increased metabolism, natural protection from bone loss, and your clothes really do fit better.
In the past year, I have noticed an increase in the number of strength classes at my gym. Barbell Strong, Tabata Strength, and versions of Crossfit routines that allow both men and women to build strength. As I heal, I am very conservative about the types of exercises I do and honestly, I spend the bulk of my time weight lifting. I can’t run a 100 yards, but I can clear a set of pull-ups, my personal goal for the year. I’m in the best shape of my life and surprisingly, weightlifting is has been the best exercise!!