#GirlsWhoLift: Why You Shouldn't Be Intimidated by the Weight Room
Entering the weight room can be intimidating for many women, but it shouldn't be.
Strength training is becoming more popular among women and men. This is awesome considering the many benefits strength training offers. The downside? Some women still don't feel confident entering the weight room.
To find out why, I sat down with Evie Kaestner, Tori Silberbusch and Megan Edwards, three women who frequently work out in the weight room at The Rec.
Why do you think women are typically hesitant to enter the weight room?
Evie: “Everyone is scared of being judged and a lot of the time people in the weight room are already pretty strong. It can be really intimidating — especially if you have never been before. It is very hard to find girls who focus on weights. Because most girls do Pilates, Yoga, or Spin, the weight room could be intimating because it’s not 'normal'.”
Megan: “There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to girls in the weight room. Many girls think that if they lift weights, they’ll develop big, bulky muscles like guys. This, combined with the unfamiliar atmosphere of the weight room, can intimidate and scare girls away.”
Tori: “When I first started going to the gym, it was intimidating because there were so many guys. I almost felt judged for being a beginner and I think that is why many girls are deterred from working out in the 'guy’s area'.”
How did you build confidence to first enter the weight room?
E: “I wore my best gym outfit. My mom told me about a study showing that women who feel good in what they are wearing will feel more confident in the gym. It seriously helped!”
M: “I remember watching my mom in the weight room when I was a young girl — so confident and driven. I drew strength and confidence from her determination and used that as my first step.”
T: “People in the gym know that everyone has a starting point. For the most part people want to see others succeed and be the best that they can be.
What is your favorite exercise to do in the weight room?
E: “SQUATS! I love Barbell Squats!”
M: “My favorite exercise would have to be squats. If done correctly, squats are a great way to engage your hamstrings, quads, lower back, and abdominal muscles.”
What do you want to say to women that want to start strength training?
E: “Do it! It makes you feel so much better! Your body will release endorphins that will make you feel good! With calisthenics workouts, you are only using your body weight. But when you train your body to lift heavier weights, your body is getting stronger. A lot of people think that if a girl touches a weight she will turn into the Hulk, but that’s not true.”
M: “The most important thing to remember is that it’s not all about looks or how much weight you’re lifting. Strength training takes patience — you have to listen to your body. If one day you can use 20 pounds on an exercise but the next week you can only use 10, it’s okay. Just keep working at it.”
T: “Strength training will help you achieve your goals faster than hours of cardio. There are still some women that believe strength training will make them look like males, but that is not going to happen.”
What do you suggest for weight room beginners?
E: “I started out not knowing anything. I started from scratch and didn’t have friends who lifted. I found a website, bodybuilding.com, and I used it to look up workouts. It would show me step-by-step how to do each exercise. As far as anyone else knew, I was just looking at my phone. A big thing is asking people to check your form or film you. Everyone in the weight room is super supportive, especially if you are just starting because everyone was once a beginner.”
M: “Start with simple exercises and use light weights. Try to master these exercises first and then as you feel comfortable, start to incorporate more complex movements. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
T: “Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. One of the biggest compliments is when someone comes over and asks me to check their form or to spot. Asking for advice will help you meet other confident women in the weight room.”
What are some ‘Do Nots’ in the weight room?
M: “Do not try to do something just because you see someone else do it. Every girl’s body is different and some movements may not be a good option for you. Doing this is a good way to injure yourself and can lead to your muscles developing in a way that is often incorrect and hard to fix.”
T: “Don’t try going too heavy too fast. You don’t want to sacrifice your form for weight.”
Why did you start strength training?
M: “Starting gymnastics and track at a young age; I didn’t exactly fit into the ‘petite’ category that many of my friends did. I always had more muscle and a different shape to my body than they did. Strength training helped me to appreciate the body that I had and focus on myself, rather than fitting into what the ‘status quo’ was.”
T: “I wanted to show myself that I could accomplish a goal if I put my all in it and if I believed in myself.”
Why is strength training better for you?
M: “Strength training provides me with a different set of goals. It allows me to challenge myself in a way that just running or doing cardio does not. I love the way I feel after a good workout —relieved of stress and ready to take on anything the day brings.
T: “Strength training helps with general health. It makes me more confident. And I am more aware of health choices that I make. I respect my body more now than I ever have before. Strength training helps me become the best version of myself.”
Don’t let the intimidation or fear of embarrassment keep you from feeling happier and stronger! Evie, Megan and Tori challenge you to skip cardio today and explore the weight room. We hope to see you ladies in the weight room!
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Terri Y.