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I have a place in a forum called 'Real Feats of Strength', where women write about being strong. Some of them compete in disciplines like Body Building and Power Lifting and some like me just like their muscles. Unfortunately the site got erased and they are only building it up again right now. It is a rather specialised site because most of these women have dedicated their lives to this sort of lifestyle. However, I am very happy that they are rebuilding the site, because it addresses an important matter:
How are women seen these days?
How do they see their role themselves?
Women have been breaking into the male domain in work life during the past decades, they sometimes are still struggling to break through the glass ceiling and to reach the high end jobs, but more and more of them do. Usually it’s the woman who manages the lifestyle of the family – and still, when it comes to physical strength they are happy to blushingly ask a 'strong man' for help.
I have been writing in this forum about my journey with Body Building and how to make it a mainstream sport for women. It already is for guys. When Tarzan with Johnny Weissmüller hit the screen ages ago nobody had seen muscles in a guy before – well, he actually was just a bit toned. Then muscular guys cropped up in more and more action movies and dear 'Arnie' Schwarzenegger changed things forever.
For some reason that didn’t happen for the ladies. Linda Hamilton was as impressive in TheTerminator as Arnold, great to watch and very well trained.
Why then did the guys hit the gyms wanting to look like Schwarzenegger although his film roles were never what one would call sophisticated, while no women was the least bit interested to look like the female counterpart who was fighting for her future like a lioness? Doing basically the same thing that mainstream woman does on a daily basis - well, we usually don't use guns but we have our weapons...
We can take pain better, we have more endurance, and if we put our minds to something we are usually more persistent. So why are we scared to show how strong we really can be?
I really would like to know what makes women tick in this respect. My strength only ever gave me advantages:
I like the calories that my muscles burn. Metabolism goes up and down with body weight (even if caused by fat). Although many obese people claim to have a low metabolism they are wrong as studies show. Since muscles are even heavier and more active than fat - they do look better, though - every pound of muscle I own allows me to eat a few calories more without guilt.
I like how physical strength radiates into my general attitude towards life and achieving things. I dare doing more things, like the jet ski tour. Firstly, because I can rely on my body and secondly, because I know how achievement feels and I want more of it… in any respect.
I couldn’t imagine being with someone who would prefer me weak!
All good and nice things. And still: women are not interested at all in my way of training. I hear a lot about back pain, weight problems and lack of drive to achieve things. They are trying the standard ways and are happy to exhaust themselves in the aerobic classes, but as soon as they touch a weight they reduce themselves to wimps.
However, someone who mainly is a runner would only train the muscles that make sense for a runner, and someone who has problems with a balanced body image would work to adjust that. The size of a muscle and which muscles one wants to train is an entirely individual choice. Hence I just can't let bulkiness count as a reason against weight exercises as long as one hasn't at least tried.
And now I may have even found a counter argument for the time problem. I might have found a training style with which one can get away with 1 ½ - 2 hours of weight exercises per week. However, this is not a style of training where somebody does it for you. You will have to get to know yourself and your body. One would have to put in something like a 3 month period of building up to the full impact, meaning raising the training intensity and not the duration. During this period quite a bit of theory needs to be digested as well, involving a mental component which comes rather close to Yoga or Tai Chi.
However, all this will become second nature, and the learned will have an impact on every day life as well. After that period one will never have to pay for a personal trainer again, one will know enough to create and amend training plans, and training breaks will not considered to be failure but a need, so no guilt anymore when holidays don't allow for training. I am experimenting with this right now and I’m loving it. Will keep you posted, true to the motto:
Knowledge is Power is Strength is Freedom!