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I am the woman in the freeweights section of the gym

MoreBean13MoreBean13 Member Posts: 9,175 Member Member Posts: 9,175 Member
Hello MFPers. I would just like to post about what it is like to be a woman lifting heavy weighs amongst the men, and how you can overcome fears associated with being a lone she-wolf.

1. Yep, it's almost all men.
There's very few gyms where women dominate the weight room. Some gyms have dedicated women's weight rooms, but from what I've seen they have less equipment. No thanks. I want access to every piece of equipment available. Quite frankly, I think dedicated women's weight section do nothing but foster the environment that the regular weight room isn't for women. It's like there is an invisible barrier that you're afraid to cross- don't be. Where I am at now, I can tell you from watching the guys that there's plenty of men that don't know what they're doing and a educated woman who walks in to the weight room has a leg up on an uneducated man.

2. How to get over the initial fear
Start with the book "Starting Strength". If you read that book in it's entirety, you will have the foundational knowledge to lift weights. Period. You can now go in to the weight room and be more knowledgeable than most of the men there. Also, you can read any of the "New Rules of Lifting" books (including but not limited to New Rules for Women). There is no difference between how men should lift versus how women should lift. Once you've started educating yourself, walk in and start giving things a try. If you're worried you won't know how to clip the weights on the bar or other small details (I know I get hung up on the small details myself) just know that after one single day of orienting yourself with the equipment, you'll know. The maximum uncomfortability is one day. Also, you can always post specific (even stupid) questions here on MFP and save a little face if you want to. If you're REALLY worried, hire a trainer for one session just to walk you through the equipment (after you've done your reading, so that you know what you're looking for)

3. Go in with a plan
Don't just go wander around, have a specific plan of attack. Use the NROL or Starting Strength or Stronglifts to plan your program, and every time you walk in the gym you will know what you're going to do in what order. When you start focusing on your program, you'll be less aware of goings on around you.

4. The men will look, and might even make comments. They're not necessarily creepers.
Just accept it, you'll be a novelty and an anomaly. One of the things that happens in the weight room is everyone has downtime between sets, and people watch other people. Men watch other men, they watch women, women watch men- it just happens. It's one of the ways we learn while we're there. They're not necessarily judging you or undressing you, they're just killing time between sets and observing.

For me, I lift a decent amount of weight, sometimes more than some men, and with good form. It's an anomaly. I *frequently* have men come up and say "Your squats are awesome, I can't get close to that low!" or a guy said to me the other day "I'm jealous, you can do more dips than I can". When I started lifting, I thought all these comments were coming from a place of creeping, but I've come to understand that it's just them generally appreciating what I'm doing, and now I graciously accept the compliments and move on. There are some creepers occasionally ("Hey, I have a really good two person ab workout I'd like to show you") but like 95% of the time it's non-creeping compliments. I genuinely really like the compliments now.

In my experience, you get pretty equal respect when you do equal workouts.

5. With equal respect comes equal treatment
You can't have it both ways, if you workout with the guys you're going to be treated like the guys treat each other. Guys aren't going to run over and offer to help you do things, but if you need help don't be afraid to ask a guy to spot your bench presses in between sets. (Don't ever try and talk to someone during a set. Ever.) If you take up a whole bunch of different equipment at one time doing some circuit workout, you'll get exactly the same annoyed reaction as if you were a man doing that exact thing.

6. Wear whatever you feel comfortable wearing...
...but don't come back here and complain if you're oogled when you're wearing a bra and booty shorts.

7. If you just suck it up and walk in with your head high and do your workout today, your fears will be greatly diminished by tomorrow. Just do it.


  • DesterkneeDesterknee Member Posts: 1,102 Member Member Posts: 1,102 Member
    As a woman in the free weights section of the gym, I have to say this post was entirely accurate!
  • chubby_checkerschubby_checkers Member Posts: 2,318 Member Member Posts: 2,318 Member

    Fantastic post!
  • ILiftHeavyAcrylicsILiftHeavyAcrylics Member Posts: 27,964 Member Member Posts: 27,964 Member
    Great post! Bumping for my friend list. :flowerforyou:
  • ihadihad Member Posts: 7,476 Member Member Posts: 7,476 Member
    Yes. Yes. Yes.
  • _chiaroscuro_chiaroscuro Member Posts: 1,386 Member Member Posts: 1,386 Member
    YES. You, get in my feed now!
  • 89nunu89nunu Member Posts: 1,097 Member Member Posts: 1,097 Member
    Great post!!! :drinker:
  • fannyfrostfannyfrost Member Posts: 756 Member Member Posts: 756 Member
    I am a woman in the free weights area. I get some looks, but the ones I like the most are the guys who watch me get heavier weights then they are using, LOL

    I should say it took me a while, but all you say is true. Of course I also had to get past, "women don't lift" as I am 47 and that was a real big deal. Even women on weight machines with heavy weights was not acceptable.
  • FrnkLftFrnkLft Member Posts: 1,821 Member Member Posts: 1,821 Member
    :love: :drinker:

    Holy ****... this is great. I'm going to bump this every single day... or hour. Lets see how quickly I can get around to it.

    This thing needs to be available permanently at the top of the fitness forums.
  • Poofy_GoodnessPoofy_Goodness Member Posts: 232 Member Member Posts: 232 Member
  • emjaycazzemjaycazz Member Posts: 330 Member Member Posts: 330 Member

    Fantastic post!

    Agree. Also--LANA.:love:
  • ATGsquatsATGsquats Member Posts: 227 Member Member Posts: 227 Member
    Nothing is more attractive than a female doing some ATG squats!!! I give a lot respect to females that aren't afraid to do the routines many men don't even do...squats, deadlifts...
  • PetulantOnePetulantOne Member Posts: 2,280 Member Member Posts: 2,280 Member
  • MaryJane_8810002MaryJane_8810002 Member Posts: 2,108 Member Member Posts: 2,108 Member
    Today was the first time using the freeweights at one of my gym chains. I usually use the rubber dumbbells in the circuit training room but I really needed to use the gym. The men were big and intimidating but they helped me out. I did my routine and left, no fuss no muss. Its not that serious.
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