Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lead by example.

(A follow-up to this post)

While the "strong" women movement is slowly starting to catch on and more and more girls are taking the weights plunge, I'm still usually the only girl in the weight room at my gym.  If other girls do venture in its to use one of the ab machines or to talk to one of the guys.
The obvious cause: intimidation and lack of knowledge.

The first time I went in the weight room I was honestly pee-in-my-pants, first-day-of-school terrified (I'm a total nervous wreck to begin with..). I decided to get super serious about lifting but kept putting it off because I was so nervous about going into big kid weights territory.  I made up every excuse about why I couldn't do it, then I decided that if I wanted what I wanted bad enough I would man up and not let such a silly fear get in my way. So I finally dragged myself in there and yeah, I made a complete fool of myself because I'm not the most graceful girl...especially when nervous!...but now I look back on those first couple of days and laugh. What the heck was I so scared of?!  Nowadays I consider bringing a sleeping bag and camping out there overnight. It is a 24 hour gym...

Here are a few tips I came up with for your first time as a lady in the weight room:

  • Prepare yourself.  Research workout routines online, decide if you want to do full body or body part splits. (I suggest fulll body, if you're just starting out). Write each day's workout on seperate index cards and bring it with you so you won't be standing around trying to think of what to do next. Even practice moves at home without weights before you go just to get comfortable with the movements.
  • Study pictures and form. Find pictures online of exercises that you're going to do.  If you don't think you'll be able to remember what a particular exercise is, snap a picture with your cell phone and bring your cell phone with you so you can simply reference the pictures. Also study each exercise's description and how to do them properly to prevent injury.
  • Fake it.  Even if you have no idea what you're doing and you're totally flustered..walk with your chin up, chest out and head held high. Walk in like you own the place, you have just as much of a right to be there as the rest of 'em.  You are paying to be there, right? Act like it!
  • Get in your zone.  Focus and forget about everyone else in the room. To be honest, everyone in there is probably so focused on their own workouts and form that they won't even notice you, trust me.  Load up your mp3 player with music that'll push you through your workout and keep your eye on the prize.  Headphones also help to drown out the uh, provocative noises dudes make when they lift :)
  • Be respectful. Be confident but don't be rude and obnoxious.  I always do my best to stay out of everyone else's way in hopes that I get the same in return.  I always ask if people are done with bars, cable machines or benches before I start using one that someone is standing near or just got done with.  Also put back your weights/unload bars when you're're a lady not a slob!
  • Don't take shit. I have not had any problems with anyone in the weight room (yet, haha), but I've heard stories.  If someone says or does something rude to you IGNORE IT. Be the bigger person, let it go, you're better than that and not worth their time. Carry on with your workout. You're tough, remember? I think once guys see that you're not afraid of heavy weights and hard work they leave you alone.  Plus, I don't know about you, but I tend to work harder when something has pissed me off...turn your anger into muscle :)
  • The guys in there are not that scary. Sure they're huge and have veins popping out where you've never seen veins before, but once you start to learn about proper lifting you realize that half of them either have no idea what they're doing..or are just..ridiculous.  It starts to get amusing watching some guy pick up the heaviest dumb bells on the rack and use 100% momentum to swing them back and forth while doing the most ridiculous looking "bicep curls" you've ever seen.
  • Weight is relative. What's heavy for you might not be considered heavy to the person next to you.  Don't worry about the # of pounds, just focus on lifting what's heavy enough for you to challenge yourself. Keep in mind everyone who lifts had to start at the bottom too.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If certain equipment confuses you or you need help with your form or a spotter, ask someone, preferably a trainer on the floor to help (that's what they're there for!).  I've even had people offer to help me..(I'm just over five feet tall and can not reach anything, haha..)

If anyone can think of any more tips please leave 'em in the comments!
The rest of us have got to lead by example and do our best to show other girls that the weight room is not a scary place and they are not going to look like Arnold or get squashed by some dude's bicep after stepping foot in there :)

Anyways..I started my internship on Tuesday and so far I am absolutely loving it! I'm learning so much and I can't wait to start training people..I have my first "test" client on Monday and on Thursday I'm teaching a "bodypump" style class to five women.  Um, NERVOUS. I already wrote up the workout for the class and I tested it on Steve, his brother and room mate last night just to see if it would flow well (and we were bored and snowed in..).
They whined the whole time..and this was only with 30lbs, it's all we had. I also out push-upped all three of them...on one leg.  Their excuse, "Oh, well you do this all the time.."
Sorry boys, but push-ups aren't even part of my routine! Unless I decide to "cool down" with them at the end of a chest work out to fatigue myself.  (Oh I'm going to catch a bunch of crap if they read this! haha).

Here's the class workout (about 50 mins):
(All done with a weighted barbell, each person gets 1 heavy one and 1 lighter one to use)

Round 1, repeat twice;
  • 12 Reverse curls
  • 12 Lying tricep extensions
  • 12 Upright rows
  • 10 Push-ups with twist
  • 10 Reverse crunches
Cardio Stations; 30 seconds jumping jacks + 30 seconds knee highs, 60 seconds of jumping jacks, 1 minute each on cardio machine of choice.

Round 2, repeat twice;
  • 15 Squats
  • 15 Stiff-legged deadlifts
  • 10/leg Lunges with rear foot elevated
  • 15 woodchops with plate
  • 10 Burpees to a 30 second chest plank
Round 3, repeat twice;
  • 15 Close grip chest presses
  • 15 Shrugs
  • 15 Bent over rows
  • 10 mountain climbers to a 30 second chest plank
I'm hoping the ladies in the class like it..I watched them do a very similar class the other day, so I know they can handle it.  I'm afraid that my style of working out is going to scare people off.  I go heavy and hard because I know it works.  Especially according to my bodymedia device, haha.

I spent my morning snowblowing the driveway  and creating this mammoth pile:

..which is wild because I avoid going outside in the winter like the plague because anything below 75 degrees and I am miserable...and covered in goosebumps. I was made for the beach. I do know how to layer though..

Bottom half: "long-johns," fleece pants and heavy snow pants. Top half: thermal shirt, huge thick hoodie, snowboarding jacket and all my hair piled into my lumberjack hat, hood up.
I survived :)

It was some tough work, I can't believe my dad does it all by himself! I'm so glad I was able to give him a hand. It was fun too and we're supposed to get another storm tonight...
Enjoy the rest of your weekend..hopefully it's not as snowy as mine!


  1. Erika, it was 60 lbs. not 30...

  2. I love this! For some reason I was never intimidated to go in the weight room even though I'm a really shy girl. I'm usually the only girl lifting too-and it's funny because outside of the gym girls are like, "your in such good shape! What do you do" and it's funny to tell them I lift :)

  3. I was made for the beach too!! I'm determined to move to California someday...But you do look awfully cute with all your snow gear! And that pic of the lady squatting is AWESOME. very inspirational :)

  4. Great post! I followed a link to your blog from April's and am glad I found it. We need more advice like this...well *we* don't, cos we lift already, but lots of women do.

    I've added you to my blog roll :)