Today’s guest post comes from one of my favourite bloggers. She is a funny, down to earth, strong and awesome woman. Her post is about fitness for women, or rather, what forms of fitness women are expected to take part in. I hope you feel as strong and inspired as I do after reading it!
Hey! I’m Allie, and I blog over at Forgotten Beast. I love writing about clean vegan eating, drawing random Paint pictures and weightlifting. My blog tends to stay on the light side, but there is a strong feministic streak in me that jumped at the opportunity to take a slightly serious turn and guest post for Emily.
I’m a gym rat, I won’t lie. And the more time you spend in a gym (okay, all you have to do is walk into a gym once), the more you realize the clear gender divide associated with fitness. The women line up on the treadmills and ellipticals, cranking out miles of cardio, while the men dominate the free weight areas. When I work out in the morning, I am the only female on the floor. When I go in the afternoon, there may be one or two others, but they only stop by long enough to do a few quick bicep curls with too-light weights. (When I image-searched women + weights, not a single one on the first page was holding more than a 10lb weight. I’m pretty sure anywoman can pick up things that are more than 10lbs. In fact, I manage to carry a full grocery bag quite regularly.)
Why is this? We are given a weird physical image to fill: “Toned, not bulky.” How many programs, magazines, and more advertise this feature? What does it even mean? As a woman you are expected to be in shape, but not too in shape. Be slim, as of course that is the only “acceptable” option, but not strong. If you are strong, somehow don’t look it. I don’t mean that all women should be physical powerhouses—if they don’t want to be. But to be told that wanting to be physically strong is wrong? This means you get to do cardio. Lots and lots of cardio.
Do all women simply love treadmills and stepping up and down on benches? If you do, that’s great. Do it! But if you don’t? Fitness is such a personal thing. You will never get active or stay active unless you enjoy what you are doing. You don’t have to be passionate about exercise or make it your primary hobby (but you can if you want), but you have to at least like what you’re doing. And you shouldn’t let the unspoken rules of the gym and the expectations of what fitness is for a woman dictate what it is you should like (or look like).