Today’s generation – immersed in its health and fitness epidemic – has become fascinated with organic foods and gym memberships. The age-range of people that are lifting is continually expanding in both directions. An increasing number of women are also beginning to explore the weight room, but there remains some hesitation from a majority of them.
“It’s tough to find the confidence to go over there if you’re the only woman there,” Kelly Margaret, an 18-year-old freshman geography and anthropology double major said. “There’s also a general misconception on what weight training does to women.”
Weightlifting is often assumed to be a male-dominated sport. Many women are intimidated of going to gyms that are full of heavy equipment and sweaty, burly men. Shying away, they fall prey to the stigmas against women and weightlifting.
The Stony Brook Strength Club hosted an event named Women and Weight Lifting, on Wednesday, March 5 at 1 p.m. in the Campus Recreation Multi-Purpose Room. They aim to dispel all myths about bulking and encourage women to put aside their fear of the weight room.
Female athletes discussed the benefits of lifting weights and give scientific evidence as to why it is healthy. They also provided support for women who are looking to make a change in their lifestyle, “without any fear of becoming ‘bulky’ or ‘manly’,” according to the description.
Danielle Bridiga Barbato, a 22-year-old senior English major, started competing for Ms. Stony Brook last spring semester. “I really loved the feel of competing and decided to do a show outside of Stony Brook with a major organization,” she said.
Women are afraid that lifting weights will make them unfeminine. Some think that female bodies are not capable of lifting heavy weights. The description of the event refutes that notion, stating that “Women are definitely not too brittle to lift heavy weights” and, in fact, women who lifted had “increased confidence, broke away from eating disorders, and developed sexy feminine physiques.”
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, only 20 percent of women between the ages of 18-20 fulfill the federal physical guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities compared to 35 percent of men. Since 1998, the numbers of men and women who meet the guidelines have increased by 6 percent in 2011.
Women who are new timers often fear being judged by men in the weight room. The Stony Brook Strength Club said they would support women who are “too nervous to go alone.” They will teach women and men where to begin if they are interested in weight training.
“Every girl should join the Stony Brook Strength Club on campus also because there are more girls than you think that lift and it’s a great source for advice and encouragement!” Barbato said.