These days I think nothing of doing a workout involving weights, but it hasn't always been that way for me.
Like many girls, I grew up thinking that only men were 'allowed' to lift weights...particularly heavy ones! I trained as a dancer from the age of 7-16, and I absolutely loved every minute of it, but a few years after I stopped I began to notice by body changing. My legs weren't as toned as they had been and my stomach muscles began to loosen a little.
So, like millions of women across the world I began to take cardio classes at my local gym. I tried body combat, body pump, aqua aerobics, and when Zumba classes began I tried them aswell, but nothing really made a difference to my body. I didn't have a great deal of weight to lose, I just wanted to tighten up the areas that had loosened since I stopped dancing, and no matter how many classes I attended, this just wasn't happening.
I began to feel angry because although I had been pushing myself ridiculously hard during the classes I wasn't noticing much of an improvement. I began to work even harder and on one occasion I actually tore my trousers right across the crutch from a hard kick...embarrassing!
Anyway, a friend of mine told me that cardio wasn't going to do a great deal for me because I didn't need to lose a large amount of weight, I simply needed to tone up. I eagerly asked her what was going to work, and she (shock horror) told me I should start lifting weights! I was mortified. No way was I going to workout 'like a man'! She explained that I needed to build muscle, as the reason my legs and stomach had loosened up since stopping dancing was because the muscle had relaxed and I needed to build it back up. Me...build muscle!? I immediately started to imagine myself as a body builder and completely ignored her advice (after freaking out a little at the vision I had imagined of me being a body builder).
From a young age it had been made clear to me, mostly by the media, that lifting weights and building muscle was not something women did. A few months later I saw the same friend on a summers day wearing a small top and shorts and asked her what her secret was. To my amazement she said lifting weights! She didn't look bulky or manly at all...she looked svelte and fantastic! She pointed me in the direction of Bodyrock and I haven't looked back since.
I can't honestly remember the last time I did a workout that didn't involve lifting weights, and not just little ones either, weights that push me to the limit. Weights that the younger me would've called 'manly weights'. I Bodyrock on average five times a week and always use weights, whether it's a sandbag, weighted medicine ball or dumbbells, and I would never go back to my old way of working out.
Admittedly I still do occasionally add a little Zumba into my workout routine, but I love the way weights and Bodyrock have improved my body. I'm only 28 now, but I still feel angry that, regarding weight training, I had such a closed mind until a few years ago.
Thankfully, recently it has become far more common for women to train using weights and this is one of the best changes I have seen happening in recent times. I believe it's important that the myth that women can't lift weights gets erased from society as it's far too great a workout for us women to not have in our lives! I am more proud of my body now than I have been in years. This is me last summer....
I just wish that younger me had known that, firstly, it is ok for women to lift weights, and secondly, just how great it would make me feel.