Being fit without being bulky, manly or losing femininity is a major concern for many women new to CrossFit. They ask for ‘tone’ or ‘leanness’ which in my view are the code words for the socially acceptable forms of muscularity in women. I want to encourage women that strength isn’t something to be afraid of – your body will change but it won’t turn into a man’s body. That’s an irrational fear fed by those out there with small minds and big mouths who would only allow women to aspire to one form of attractiveness and would restrict us from the range of ‘femininities’ we can identify with – including ones that include a bit of muscle!
HERE’S A FACT: NO MAN OR WOMAN BECOMES A BODYBUILDER BY ACCIDENT
The truth is that if women can get past the largely irrational fears about bulk and focus on getting stronger, they develop better body image and a healthier relationship with their bodies.
The concerns evaporate and are replaced by a pride in what a woman’s body can do! We women who lift know that we are women, and we are happier with our bodies than the average population. We don’t shun femininity. Actually, we ooze it!
But it’s a different brand of femininity than your average pink Barbie doll fluff. It’s a femininity that doesn’t break under pressure. It’s not about waiting for doors to opened for you or being shielded from the grit and grind of life. It may not be the femininity that every woman aspires to, but it is the sexiest kind there is. It’s like the difference in sexy between Cinderella and Elektra. Both arguably beautiful, but which would you rather be?
If you don’t see yourself as a Waiting-for-Prince-Charming kind of gal, you might want to read on for a selection of the other great bits about being a woman who’s not afraid to lift heavy.
1. FUNCTIONALITY – KNOWING WHAT IT’S FOR AND HOW TO USE IT
Lets cut to the nitty gritty. Lifting requires a greater knowledge and deeper respect for the body. You learn your limits and you fight to break through them. Along the way you discover how to move better, think more confidently and take pride in what your body can do. And to lift, you learn how to tap into a raw, primal more passionate self.
These characteristics don’t get left in the box – they follow you home! I don’t think I need to draw you a picture to explain how these qualities increase your attractiveness, appeal and even ability in the bedroom. Outside the bedroom, a functional, strong female body usually houses a pretty awesome personality. Double bonus, not just for your significant other, but also for friends, family and children. Ladies who lift just have more energy for everything.
2. LIFTING LADIES BE LIKE, “SCREW FASHION, LET’S HAVE FUN!”
Is there anything more tedious than the fashion-obsessed? I can think of scarce things less sexy than someone more worried about what they wear than what they do. That’s not to say that lifting women leave their homes in the morning without some preening. It’s just less of an obsessional worry. Lifting women love to express their personalities in their lifting gear and gym clothes. Bright colours or plain black, they rock it! But the focus is totally different. It’s about what fits, what’s functional and what’s fun.
Doubtlessly, there are brand name junkies in the fitness wear arena, too. But you wouldn’t catch a self-respecting CrossFit woman more worried about messing up her gear than messing up her workout. Besides, the better the body is underneath, the less the outer cover really matters!
3. LIFTING AND LONGEVITY. SEXY FOR THE LONG HAUL
We are all getting older. Stop denying it and start thinking about how you’d like to age!
One of the physical changes that defines the problems experienced in old age is the decline in muscle tissue. Forget for a moment, what this means for appearance. Just consider how sexy you can feel when you need help up and down from the toilet! You need a good foundation of muscle to keep you moving and independent for longer. The older we get, the harder it becomes to build muscle, so there’s no sense in waiting until there’s a problem to start. In case you are still worried about how you’d look with more muscle, be advised that more muscular, leaner bodies look younger through the years, too. Get lifting or look like a granny, basically.
4. SHELLAC AND CHALK! WE LOOK GOOD UNDER PRESSURE
Dedicated female lifters and Crossfitters have a great style. It’s reflected in their workouts with styles that will hold up under sweat and hard graft. Outside the box, this looks like real beauty. The kind that isn’t overly concerned with keeping our makeup pristine. Just because a woman can be gritty and strong doesn’t mean you should underestimate her power to wow. Maybe not in ways that you’d read about in Vogue, but with simple, sexy ways that can’t be easily imitated.
Lifting women are queens of the sporty yet hot up-do and even short-nailed, chalked up hands are often celebrated with a coat of shellac. In the effort to lift, we learn to work with what we’ve got – making the most of our good bits and working on making the rest better. Translation: lifting women might not be caught up in cultural ideals of femininity, but they also won’t scare you when then have no makeup on and can rock their flannel pjs just as well as their party frocks.
Warning: Strong women can only be matched by strong friends and strong partners! Not saying that your partner or friends will need to be muscular, but they will certainly need a strength of character to match your own. Sometimes, as women get fitter and healthier, their new found confidence rubs some people up the wrong way. Particularly machismo men, jealous people and the plain, old superficial types. If you refuse to be a play-thing, you’ll soon find out who really respects you. Your strength might start in with lifting, but it’ll end up in your character and your spirit.