Friday, August 9, 2013

On Working Out While Being a Woman

I love working out. I love the sweat, I love feeling the pain and stiffness later. I even love when the callouses or blisters rip off my hands onto the weights.

I love to be healthy. And yes, I even love looking good. I love looking good for myself, and I love looking good for my boyfriend (who says he would still love me if I got fat, but he might not have sex with me as much. Which is totally fair, since I feel the same way about him.) and every now and then, yeah. I like looking good to whatever man happens to be looking. I admit a weakness for feeling desireable. We'll call it a biological imperative. (Hey,one must be honest with oneself if one is to indulge in feminist rage!)

I hate the way the fitness world treats women. The entire fitness world. It implies that the entire purpose of working out is to attract a better mate. Sometimes it SAYS "being healthy is the goal!" but it's always said by a woman in as little workout clothing as possible, slathered in makeup and hair product, who somehow manages to get through her entire workout video without flushing or breaking a sweat. (Because girls aren't supposed to sweat. Or poo.)

So a woman, with the intent on being healthy, goes to the gym. Frankly, gyms are intimidating to beginners. They're not really sure what to do with all those weights and machines. Guys can ask guys for help or advice. But if a gal asks a guy? There are two reactions she'll generally get. (Keep in mind, this is NOT all men. However, if you ask a lot of women, this is what they've experienced. And it's what I've experienced.) She'll either be treated as a nuisance, as though she shouldn't be there if she can't "keep up with the big boys," or she'll be treated as a sex object, like she's flirting or she'll get flirted with. She'll be called insulting pet names like "little lady" or "sweetheart," and never asked for her name, unless he's flirting.

Even women in the gym treat others with scorn, frequently. We get so caught up in our own little Super Heroine worlds that we forget what it was like to be new. Or we could afford to hire a personal trainer--Someone who could show us how to work out, who was also required to treat us with respect.

This often results in women hitting the treadmill, eliptical, or stairmaster. Which often makes people think she's "lazy," or "just working out to be skinny" or some other such sexist junk. Because most people in the gym know that cardio is good for burning fat, but not building muscle. The New Girl may not know that, though. She may just be trying to be healthy and hasn't done a lot of research. Maybe she doesn't know where to start. It's ridiculous how much contrasting information there is out there.

Eventually, a lot of women get frustrated or fed up and opt to work out at home. THEN they're bombarded with "women's" workout essentials. Pink or other pastel barbels, matching sports-bra-and-miniskirt combinations, tiny little 1-5-8 pound barbell sets "for women." Because women aren't supposed to lift heavy. Women aren't supposed to be strong. We're supposed to be slim, feminine, and weak so that men can protect us. RIGHT? There's no reason a woman sould have to lift more than 10 pounds unless it's a baby. And really, when the kid gets too heaby, that's what Dad's for!

Or do they think we're concerned with looking "too masculine" lifting a grey 15-pound dumbbell? With our faces red and contorted, sweating, and grunting, we'd just look "too masculine" and would be better off with a 5-pound pink dumbbell.

Because when I'm working out, I'm really concerned with attracting a mate. I don't really care how healthy I am as long as I find a strong man to protect me!

(women who go to the gym for the purpose of finding a mate will be in a later chapter; possibly titled "Gym-bos.")

Seriously, fitness industry. Get your act together.

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