"I would use the dumbbells, but there's always a group of guys hanging out at the weight rack. So I just end up doing cardio."
A woman I know made this comment to me a couple months ago, and since that time, I have heard some version of it by at least several others. In fact, I've heard this sentiment (and personally experienced it) so much in my life that it inspired me in part to become a personal trainer and women-focused business owner.
I want women to know their own power.
There are many reasons why women feel intimidated to work out in a traditional gym setting. Some reasons are internally-driven (fear of judgment, body image issues, lack of confidence . . . ) and some are driven by the "boys network" that takes up the benches and squat racks and dumbbells. That intimidate with grunting and dropping weights. That make women feel inadequate by mansplaining form or asking when they'll be finished using the equipment they have. (Haha, I've been eyerolling so much typing these last examples - so many memories. Thanks, boys!) No matter the reason, the end result is the same - women choosing NOT to lift weights when it is one of the best things they can do for their overall physical and mental health. The next time you feel like veering away from the weight rack, consider this EXTRA BONUS SUPER DELUXE benefit to weight training: lifting weights helps you feel IN CHARGE! In charge of your body, your mind and the physical space you inhabit at any given moment. In the gym, you will feel in charge when you lift increasingly heavy weight or when you do your first chin-up. Outside of the gym, you will notice when you load heavy things into your car and carry them home by yourself, or when you have the stamina to take a nice long hike with a friend or a pet. There have been many times when I've felt down about the way I look, or have felt self-conscious and less-than in a room of strangers - or even dear friends. Then I remember what I deadlifted that week and suddenly, I OWN MY SPACE! I am big! I know my body is mine. I know what it can do. I know it serves me and it is not up for anyone else's discussion or judgment. If you're having a hard time imagining feeling in charge, I will tell you that it is doable: move at a proper pace without an all-or-nothing mindset, learn proper movement and be mindful of what you are doing. Do this in a space where you feel safe and encouraged. This happens when you take classes at my studio. You can also have this experience when you work out with friends or in programs that have your back, or in women-friendly fitness facilities (ask me for recommendations). These are great places to start. Eventually you can enter any gym, or any space for that matter and own it, especially spaces where men dominate. Tell yourself, "I am IN CHARGE!" You are!