When I wrote a post about gender stereotypes a few weeks ago, it brought up so many emotions. I hate knowing that 95 per cent of women are afraid of lifting weights – mostly because they don’t want to get bulky like a man. But then I started to think why so many women believe this.
Then, right in front of my eyes, I began to see why. I bought a couple of trashy magazines to read on the plane here, and one of them came with a small ‘shape-up guide’. The information promoted through this magazine for women was absolute trash.
It included quotes from celebrities, and explained how to obtain similar bodies. Some of these “tips” included: run long distances five days a week, avoid eating for at least an hour after working out to maximise the “after burn” effect, drink miso soup as a meal replacement (I’m pretty sure that’s a sign of an eating disorder!), complete just three minutes of core work to score a flat stomach by that same day, and snack on fruit to keep your blood sugar stable (for clarification: the reverse is actually true, you never want to eat fruit on its own or it will wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels!). The magazine said you could expect to achieve your ideal body in no more than five weeks – with a guarantee to lose at least two kilograms in the first two days!!
Here are some direct quotes:
“To shape up for a shoot, Bar Rafaeli says she does an extra couple of sit-ups the night before. She also drinks hot water with lemon that morning.”
Seriously?! So if I do 10 sit-ups tonight I’m going to wake up looking like a supermodel tomorrow? So long as I have my lemon water, right?!
“If you’re in the market to lose a lot of kilos, cardiovascular exercise should be the cornerstone of your exercise plan. The more weight you need to lose, the more cardio you do the better!”
So where does this misinformation come from?
Personal trainers! Only one “diet and fitness expert” is quoted throughout the booklet. Here is a direct quote from this so-called expert: “Get toning with bicep curls and tricep dips. Keep the reps high so you tone and don’t bulk up…do these exercises two to three times a week at the end of your regular training session [cardio!].”
Again, “‘For shapely, toned pins like Blake Lively’s, you need to get down and dirty with some barbell squats,’ says Geoff, who recommends six sets of 25 repetitions. ‘Squats are the best overall exercise for toning your legs,’ he adds. Just remember to keep the reps high so you tone rather than build muscle. That’s the key!”
Um, what? So the aim is to tone up our fat asses, without adding any unsightly muscle? Sadly, these were some of the only mentions of weight training in the whole pamphlet.
Finally, whether she actually said it or not, Rihanna was quoted as saying that she doesn’t eat ANY carbohydrates, and she only does cardio for exercise. I find that very hard to believe. It’s almost as though female celebrities are afraid of admitting they lift weights, like they’re giving the game away.
I hate being belittled because I’m a woman. When Rob and I went to sign up at our new gym, the membership guy asked Rob if he was into cardio or weights. He then turned to me and asked me what classes I was interested in. When I said none, he then said: “Oh, so mostly cardio equipment then?” I wanted to knock him out!
Even at a pretty serious gym it’s assumed that because I’m female, I must only be into Zumba classes and hitting the treadmill.
I had one of my final personal training assessments on the weekend. The assessors asked the “big, strong men” (their words, not mine!) to bring some tables upstairs. Although I was surprised that there was still such sexism directly within the fitness industry, I just shook my head and forgot about it. Until…
We were being tested on our ability to perform fitness assessments on clients. When we were going through the push up exercise (as many push ups as possible in one minute) the assessor said “I assume the ladies are going to do push ups on their knees?” and to my shock, the other six women in the room all nodded. I quickly said a big, loud NO! Everyone, instructors included, looked at me like I had three heads. The best satisfaction was when I beat my male partner at the test, and banged out 32!
The girls whinged about how they couldn’t even do one push up on their toes. While they did as many ‘girly‘ push ups as possible, I beat all of them on my toes! I find it extremely hard to comprehend how someone who is studying to become a personal trainer – which involves teaching others how and why to train – cannot even do a single, proper push up. But that is a whole other post in itself…
I’m only one person. One person trying to be heard amongst thousands of other sources of information that keep spreading lies that doing cardio will give you the sculpted body of your dreams and that following a zero carbohydrate diet will leave you ripped. But I hope that I can educate a handful of others, who can then help spread the word.
The main reason I became a personal trainer is to teach women what strength training can do for the body. I’m convinced that nonsense like the above is preached to women to further fuel the already multi-billion dollar industry.
When women follow this advice, and don’t see any results, they then turn to unnecessary pills and drastic diets for help. All their problems would be solved if they trained like a real girl: hard and heavy! Unless you were born looking like a model, achieving your ideal body is going to take a heck of a lot longer than five weeks.
Have you witnessed any instances of incorrect information being provided to women?