Let’s get physical

Lily Hanafin, Opinions Editor

Thanks to the social media platform TikTok, the world has experienced a rise in the “gym girl” —women who spend hours everyday lifting and eating protein filled meals. The app has created an environment for fitness-oriented women who want to share their positive lifting experiences. On the app, you can see fitness influencers teaching other women how to work out and various exercises to try in the gym. Women are encouraging other women to go to the gym, workout, and hit new personal records. 

Now more than ever, women are encouraged to lift not just for the numerous health benefits, but also to be physically strong. Strength training is especially beneficial for women. Not only does lifting strengthen muscles and burn fat, but it also decreases the risk of osteoporosis, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Despite these numerous benefits, the National Center for Health Statistics says that only around 20% of American women strength train. 

A big reason why many women avoid the gym is because of numerous myths that have been told for decades. In the past, women who worked out were told “not to bulk up because they’d look manly,” or “ women didn’t know how to work out correctly.” Going to the gym for any other reason other than to lose weight was looked down upon. 

This fear of becoming too muscular has been ingrained into most women. This fear is one of the top reasons why most women stay on the treadmill and avoid the deadlifts, curls, and bench press. However, it is almost impossible for the majority of women to bulk up, because they don’t have high enough testosterone levels to do so. Instead of getting bigger, most women lean down and have more muscle definition when they lift. Weight only increases because muscle is more dense than fat. Hopefully, when more women realize that weight lifting won’t turn them into The Incredible Hulk, they will start to strength train. Maybe it will even help people realize that being muscular is just as femine as having a slimmer body.

I’ll be the first to admit that I too had this fear. When I first started lifting weights for my sport, I was afraid that I’d put on too much weight, or that I’d look too bulky. Once I stopped telling myself all these different stories, I was able to see the benefits of strength training. Not only was I physically stronger, but I also felt more confident in myself and my body. I’ll admit that I don’t really enjoy working out, but I love the feeling once I’ve finished my workout. I love the increased endorphin levels, reduced stress and improved body image.

I want to challenge and encourage every woman this New Year to stick with their resolution to work out. Don’t just go to the gym for two weeks in January. Even if the gym seems like a daunting and confusing place, stick with it, and you will learn and feel more comfortable. Let’s get physical and feel strong and powerful in our own bodies.