Strangers in the Weightroom

Letter Pull-ups and bench press and dead lifts, oh my! But I am a female, if I even think about any of these exercises, won’t my body spontaneously combust into the most muscular, bulky, manly figure you have ever seen?

A year ago, this was my mindset, along with a large percentage of women—actually it’s generally true of most people. I have been a gym-goer for years; in high school I even lost about twenty pounds by doing endless, boring cardio and going on a strict no-carb diet. Did this approach work to lose weight? You bet. But was I bored to death and did I eventually gain all the weight back? Yep.

The truth is, for the majority of my adolescence, I was terrified of that testosterone-ridden, male-dominated territory that is the weight room. I thought if I went in there they would all look at me funny, and I would be so embarrassed because I wouldn’t know how to use any of the equipment. Fast forward to March of this past year. A relationship I was betting everything on ended unexpectedly, and I was left heartbroken and looking for a new outlet to occupy my time. I also realized I needed to shed some of those relationship pounds we start to gain when we get too comfortable. I knew I didn’t want to go back to being a cardio bunny, spending mindless hours on the treadmill and elliptical, counting the seconds until it was over. I started seeing a trend in girlfriends of mine with smoking hot, feminine, curvy bodies that I envied: they were lifting weights. And I’m not talking five pounders. They were lifting next to the boys, sharing that squat rack with the men, and they looked hotter than ever because of it.

I was intrigued. So I took to the wonderful World Wide Web and found a beginners twelve-week weightlifting program for women. I followed the program religiously for the entire twelve weeks, and after about just five weeks, I noticed my body changing more dramatically and rapidly than it ever had before with any other workout I had ever tried. I was hooked. Let me tell you—the feeling you get from lifting heavier weight than the grown man next to you, rocking those pink lifting gloves, is way more fulfilling than any runners’ high you will ever experience.