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By Mia Sherin, August 5, 2020
There are few places that scare me more than the weight room at the gym. And, while I hate to reinforce gender stereotypes, I have never gained the confidence to move away from the yoga mat and the treadmill. I attribute this lack of confidence to many things; a fear of being judged if my form isn’t perfect, difficulty entering a male dominated space, and of course, my internalized sexism that tells me that I shouldn’t lift weights for fear of becoming “bulky.”
Quarantine, in many ways, is a great time to try new things. Whether you are joining the masses and making banana bread, taking up a new hobby, or you’re like me and want to change your workout routine, this is as good a time as ever. With the help of fitness expert James Prather, I was able to push myself outside my comfort zone and change my fitness habits. And thanks to social distancing restrictions, I was able to try these new exercises in the privacy of my own backyard, taking baby steps towards the weight room.
While I have always been a fan of exercising, especially during quarantine when I jump at the chance to get up and get active, I have always gone for yoga, pilates, or cardio workouts specifically geared towards women. When opening up Youtube to follow along with video workouts, I typically end up with a video using language similar to “trimmed waist,” “booty lift,” or “sexy abs.” Very clearly targeted towards women (and their insecurities), these videos never use weights or equipment, and while I always end up with lots of sweat and really great burn, there is something to be said about the fact that workouts that target women are not typically geared towards strength training. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying these workouts (I definitely do!), but I decided it was time to workout to get stronger, rather than to fit into the beauty standards placed on women.
James Prather is a fitness expert who specializes in creating custom plans designed to meet personal fitness goals. I told him that I wanted to focus on strength training using only the weights and resistance bands that I had in my house, devoting 30 minutes a day for at least five days.
I started this workout journey on a Tuesday morning. I grabbed my weights, resistance bands, yoga mat, a bottle of water, and a killer playlist, set up a spot in my backyard and was excited to start. I ended up Googling videos of a few of the exercises to make sure I was doing them correctly, but eventually accepted that my form might be imperfect. On days one and two, I found myself going through the plan slowly, with little confidence, but as the week progressed, I got to know the program well, and my uncertainty faded.
I felt very sore as the days went on, but I also felt empowered. It was exciting to know that I was capable of doing these kinds of workouts that I used to see as meant for a different kind of person — someone who appeared to be stronger, more experienced, or a man, for that matter. These workouts that I had counted out were finally in my reach, thanks to a plan that worked for me! At the end of the five days, I knew I wanted to keep incorporating these new exercises into my regular routine. While my body was exhausted and definitely in need of a rest day, I felt powerful, strong, and proud of myself. For anyone considering changing up their fitness routine, I would encourage you to do so. There is no habit quite as crucial as the ability, and desire, to push yourself outside your comfort zone.