From a young age women are taught to be “ladylike”, not make noise or get messy and dirty, be obedient, and not to draw attention to themselves. There seemed to be all these stereotypes about what was right, what was expected, what was acceptable. The sport of weightlifting for women was pretty much unheard of in the 70s when I was growing up and the closest I ever got to the weight room in the gyms was having to walk past it on my way to my step aerobics or body sculpting classes. There was always that uneasy feeling having to pass by all the guys that seemed to be just standing around, doing some curls, looking at themselves in the mirror, and staring at all the girls walking by. Yes, I know I’m dating myself saying that!
Flash forward to 2009 when I started CrossFit. I had never lifted weights, other than those 5 or 10 pound dumbbells doing Jane Fonda type workouts nor had I ever been in an environment where people were lifting heavy weights. Cleans, dead lifts, snatches, overhead squats, push presses…..what?! It was all SO foreign to me and to say it was scary is an understatement! This idea of everyone dropping their weights went against everything I learned growing up. So of course I would always very gently set the bar down, as if it were a baby being set in a crib and I couldn’t bring myself to lift anything “too heavy” for fear that I would drop it.
It was one of my coaches that called me out one day and, as crazy as it sounds, totally changed my way of thinking as well as my approach to so many aspects of life. True story! He asked me what I was so scared of. What’s the worst thing that could happen if I had to drop the bar? (a controlled drop of course and not an empty barbell, that’s a no no and will cause damage to the bar!) So let’s see. It would make a loud noise, yes. People may turn around and look, yes.(although no one really cares in CrossFit because weights are literally dropping all the time!) That’s it? Could it really be that simple?
Knowing now that it wouldn’t be the end of the world, with some trepidation, I dropped the barbell! There it was, one of those moments that at the time it happens you have no idea the impact it will have on you. By dropping the weights it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and I mean this both literally and figuratively! Lol! There was a feeing of empowerment that’s inexplicable. Somehow with this newfound confidence I realized I didn’t have to be perfect all the time. I didn’t have to act or dress a certain way because its what was “accepted”. I could be me…and that was enough.
Now I’m not saying you should start lifting so you can drop the barbell and your life will be forever changed, although it probably would be! Whenever I have newbies at the gym it’s one of the first things I have them do and I swear it’s always the same, almost liberating, expression on their faces! The point I am making is that life is messy! You don’t have to be perfect. You have a voice. Most importantly, forget about the “norm” and what everyone else is doing or not doing. Be confident, be strong, be you!