By Coach Ida Rahman, Coach at Eunos Headquarters
HOW I STARTED LIFTING WEIGHTS – AGAIN
I used to lifted weights, but not very seriously, for softball training when I was 13. After a few years of such training, I became bulkier. I thought it was because of the strength training, but in fact it was more likely because I ate too much. Not knowing that was likely the main reason, I stopped lifting weights as I was afraid of becoming even bulkier, and being perceived as masculine. So, I turned to cardio – ran and used the elliptical machine almost daily.
Then one day, I stumbled across a picture of some girls competing in an athletic competition. They caught my eye as they all looked very confident, muscular, lean and strong, but not at all manly! Tired of the lack of results and unfulfilling cardio, I needed a change. I read up more about strength training and started lifting weights again, but more seriously and consistently.
PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF STRENGTH TRAINING
When I did only cardio, my body didn’t change much, I didn’t dare to eat much, I felt bored, there was no way to progress, and every workout was a chore. After returning to strength training, I started to lose body fat while maintaining muscle. I had to eat more to fuel my body through my workouts. Lifting weights helped me to increase my metabolism and burn more calories overall than the infinite amounts of cardio ever did. I always looked forward to workouts, as there were more measurable ways to progress.
Far more important than just the physical strength that I gained, strength training has transformed my self-confidence and overall outlook on life.
STRENGTH TRAINING IS EMPOWERING
Strength training helped me to realise that I am in control of my body. Over the past 2 years of strength training, I’ve seen my body change, I saw myself getting stronger, I was able to do things I never thought I could ever do, for example pull-ups, squats without feeling any pain despite past knee and hip injuries, and even being able to deadlift 1.5 times my body weight. All this, while actually enjoying the training and feeling confident in a gym filled with males – I guess you could call it overcoming my “gym-timidation”.
I’ve learnt that I am so much more than what my body looks like, and to value my body more for what it can do. After reaping the benefits of lifting weights, the fear of looking masculine became no reason to deny myself the right to build a strong, able body. I stopped seeing strength or muscles as a masculine thing, but it is something for everyone, regardless of gender.
Strength training has taught me to embrace uniqueness in myself and others as well. I have always struggled with my own body image. I hated my big legs and broad shoulders and for the longest time I tried to fight against this. I always wished I was more traditionally feminine, more petite, less muscular, more ‘normal’.
After strength training, I discovered the value in my natural body type. I slowly regained control over my own perspective of my body. Before, I let myself be bound by stereotypes about what a woman should look like. But now, I am less apologetic of what I was born with.
I might have become relatively ‘bulkier’ after strength training (something many women fear). But most importantly, I made a conscious choice to gain muscle to this point. It does not have to be this way for you. The very fact that you can choose to, is in itself very empowering.
This new sense of empowerment boosted my confidence and self-esteem in other aspects of my life, other than physical training itself. That is why, I’ve decided to go into personal training as my career – to help others discover their physical and inner strength.
STRENGTH TRAINING TEACHES BALANCE AND PATIENCE
Strength training taught me to embrace who I am, while building a better version of myself. It has developed my patience and mindfulness too.
I love the challenge of strength training. It feels good to push myself, learn new things and break personal records. I actually pushed myself too hard at the beginning, thinking that training was all about grinding and going to the limit. But soon enough, I sustained injuries, burnt out and stalled. I learned the hard way that strength training is not about being hard-core all the time – maybe just 20% of the time.
To me, strength training is about finding a range in which you can keep making progress, and to push yourself within this range. It forced me to be honest with myself, with where I am right now, but to also know that I can improve from there. There is not much point lifting weights that are too heavy for you. It is a truly long-term process. From my experience, whenever I rushed the process, I would make good progress for maybe two weeks... but soon, I’d go back to square one. Thus, it taught me that patience is the quickest path to success.
Also, I have learned to forgive myself for my flaws and to focus my energy on what I can do instead. It is difficult to progress when intentions are negative. Starting a diet because I hated my body, only led to a spiral of eating disorders, temporary results, and even more loathing for my own body. Now, I train and eat because I love myself and I love my body, not because I dislike my body or think that I am fat or weak.
Looking back on the progress I’ve made, I realise it is simply the result of consistency, countless small changes made from day to day. I have learned to acknowledge these small changes as progress itself. Progress manifests itself in many ways, whether dropping 5% body fat, or even choosing to be a little stricter with your diet today. We just have to be open our eyes to it and as our campaign slogan says, “Embrace Your Strength, Own Your Beauty”.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
To me, strength training is a lifestyle. It is not a quick-fix but a long-term endeavour. I believe that with the right guidance, anyone can benefit from it, regardless of age, gender - as long as you are willing to put in effort and time.
At Genesis Gym, I believe that we can get help you to discover just how empowering strength training is for you. With the correct coaching techniques and the undivided attention from our team of coaches, I’m sure you too, will learn more about your own body than you ever did. Schedule an appointment for a consultation today. Hope to see you soon.