Women’s History Month: Breaking Down Fitness Myths

Written by Beckie Lough

During Women’s History Month (and every month) we are proud to be a woman-owned business!

The world of athletics, especially strength sports, has stereotypically been thought of as a “man’s world.” ASF owner Krista Bergeron and her staff of trainers, which is over 50% women, beg to differ! We thrive under heavy weight, and we help our clients of all genders find happiness and health through strength training. 

While we are doing our part to bring more women and non-binary people into the strength world, we still see a lot of misinformation about women in fitness.

Here are some of the biggest myths that women and those socialized as women hear about fitness:

The primary goal of exercise is to lose weight.

Wrong! While it is indisputable that exercise is essential for health and longevity, this does not mean that weight loss is always necessary for health. In fact, studies show that even without any corresponding weight loss, regular exercise alone lowers our risk of mortality. 

Many people do gain muscle and lose body fat when they follow a smart, consistent strength training program, but this does not always translate to the scale. When you’re working on developing a lifelong habit of exercise, fixating on weight loss can really drag you down. Fitness can be a be an expression of joy, a celebration of your body and all it can do. Focus on moving regularly and nourishing yourself, and let your body change in its own time.

Women should stick to cardio equipment.

Many women avoid the weight room and choose the treadmill instead. This may be because of a lack of knowledge and experience, or it could be related to societal ideas of what a woman’s body is supposed to look like (see the myths above and below). While we also love a good incline walk, if you are skipping resistance training, you are missing out on significant benefits. We really do need both for optimal health.

One of the best ways to get comfortable in a weight room is to hire a personal trainer! Our clients of all genders know that their trainer will guide and educate them so they can approach any dumbbell rack with confidence. 

Lifting makes you “bulky” / having muscles makes you less feminine. 

There are so many things wrong with this statement! First of all, for most people, putting on significant muscle is tough. You have to train REALLY HARD for a long time, while eating enough to support muscle growth. And, thanks to a suite of hormonal differences, those with male biology are typically able to gain more muscle mass, especially in the upper body, than those with female biology. You don’t go to the gym five times and come out Popeye. But it is true that over time, depending on genetics and history, women can develop visible muscles.

Which leads to the other issue with this statement – who gets to decide what kinds of bodies look “feminine”? Why would we ever let societal norms steal the joy of lifting from us by dictating how we should look?

We get to decide how we see ourselves and what we do with our bodies! Feeling strong and powerful inside your body is one of the best feelings in life, and it has nothing to do with how you look. 

Women might hurt themselves by trying to lift too much. 

Anyone can get hurt when lifting! Women have historically been thought of as more delicate than men, and were warned against working too hard. But we now know that while those with female biology do have some considerations that are different from men (thanks, uterus!), for the most part, women can and should train at high intensities.

One of the most important roles of a personal trainer is to help you push up to and past your limits, but within a range that is safe for your body. This goes for any body, any gender.

Basically, it boils down to this: all people need to move their bodies consistently, ideally with a blend of strength training and cardio/conditioning (including walking). Lifting weights is empowering, super good for you, and a ton of fun. If you are not sure where to begin, ask a strong friend to help you get started, or better yet, book a free consultation with an Austin Simply Fit trainer and get stronger than you ever thought possible! 

Happy Women’s History Month, strong people!  

Trainer Vilita does the splits in front of ASF marquee