If you stop for a moment and take a look around the gym, you may notice that the fitness world is currently going through a change. Gone are the days when you see women sticking to cardio or group classes, while the men pump iron. More and more women are making tremendous gains in the weight room!
"It's no longer taboo for women to become fit and strong," says Matt Gary, co-owner of Supreme Sports Performance and Training (SSPT), a powerlifting gym in Rockville, Maryland.
Gary and his wife, Suzanne Hartwig-Gary, have seen a major influx of women not only joining their gym, but entering powerlifting competitions.
"Just looking at the last ten years, women now think it's cool to be strong, fit and have some muscle instead of just being skinny," Hartwig-Gary, said. "Today, being fit is seen as a lot better than just being skinny."
Perhaps this shift can also help to change long held beauty standards. Bodybuilding and flexible dieting coach, Brittany Dawn, was not always one to follow a healthy plan and she attributes those poor past behaviours to unrealistic expectations placed on women.
"I was convinced that happiness meant having a thigh gap, collarbones, a virtually absent waist and wearing size 00 jeans," Dawn said. "On an average day, I would do 2-3 hours of cardio, and follow it with an overly restrictive diet. I lost friends. My family knew I had a problem, and I chose my workouts over going out to make memories. My only concern in life was being skinnier because society told me that this was what would make you beautiful."
But since she began lifting, all of that has changed. "I've been weight lifting for a little over three years now. My cardio is minimal, almost non-existent. I no longer have 'fear foods,' simply because I've discovered what food can do for any human physique when implemented properly. My body composition has completely altered. Through trial and error, ups and downs, I've learned that strong feels so much better than skinny," Dawn said.
This sense of empowerment is taking over fitness circles with an increased awareness of the benefits of strength training. Barbell Babes, based in Washington, D.C., is a group that supports this movement, touting themselves as "a community to help empower babes to break boundaries, whether that's lifting heavy or anything in life."
We say "amen" to that! For the first time ever, 2015 saw more women than men compete in the raw powerlifting portion of the Arnold Classic, a competitive bodybuilding event that included 18,000 athletes!
"I think it's so important that women become confident with their bodies," Matt Gary said. "Strength training and weightlifting empowers them. The focus is moved away from being skinny [to] being comfortable in your own skin."
And at the end of the day, isn't that what getting fit and healthy is all about? Not prescribing to a preconceived set of notions about how you should look and just being comfortable in your own skin?
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What do you think of this new trend? Can strength training empower women to tackle stereotypes outside of the gym as well?
Source: CBS News