I love the weight room and I take my training seriously … too seriously sometimes, which results in a bit of a tongue lashing from my coach. It’s always deserved, mind you. But as focused and competitive as I can be, I hate training alone. I like that when I walk into my gym, I am greeted by name (or one of the many nicknames given to me by my coach). I enjoy the laughter that is exchanged among my teammates. I thrive on the friendly competitiveness that makes me work just a little bit harder. I count on the fact that The Miss Fits celebrate one another’s accomplishments and provide words of encouragement when the weight gets heavy. And, it’s way more fun to moan in solidarity over 100 triceps extensions or 50 consecutive squats. But, when I’m out of town, which is frequently, I have to suck it up.
Getting to the gym is not the problem. Vacation, business trip, family visit, whatever … anyone who knows me well understands that I will need some “me time,” and that includes hitting the gym. But having the motivation is one thing. The hard part is the uncomfortable feeling of walking into a new gym alone. Maybe this isn’t something that men can relate to, but it can be pretty damn intimidating for a girl to walk into a weight room full of grunting, sweaty dudes.
Once you get in the weight room, things can sometimes get even more uncomfortable. Last year, I was in a typical jumbo gym and was warming up for an easy set of deadlift singles. It wasn’t long before I noticed a young guy watching me. He even sat down on a nearby bench to watch me. Now, at first I was definitely thinking creeper, and I tried my best to ignore him. But then he started asking questions and would say things like, “You make that look too easy.” So, I ended up talking to him, and it turned out that he knew my coach. I finally decided that he was harmless, just not accustomed to seeing a girl lifting heavy.
Now, I’m willing to bet that most women would like to avoid that kind of attention in the gym. But I’ve come to expect a certain amount of it. I’ve been the only girl in the weight room. I’ve gotten curious sideways glances. I’ve gotten unsolicited advice during a lift. And, I’ve been questioned about my training. And while the interactions can certainly be awkward, I have found them to be mostly well-intentioned. I’ve also learned to have some fun with it. So, when I’m missing the comfort and familiarity of my home gym/coach/team, I grab my bright purple lifting belt and walk into that new weight room with just a little bit of swagger. Then, I get serious.