Women of strength “THE MYTH THAT WOMEN SHOULDN’T LIFT HEAVY IS PERPETUATED BY WOMEN WHO FEAR WORK AND MEN WHO FEAR WOMEN.”
In the not too distant past, women were perceived to be the “weaker sex,” but that perception has finally been shattered by women like elite CrossFit competitor and Oxygen cover athlete Brooke Ence. Women like her pulverize the notion that we are frail and weak.
When we talk about “strength” here in the pages of Oxygen, we are usually referring to strength as a physical power — how much weight can you push and pull before you hit failure. But it’s really much more than that, isn’t it? Ultimately, it’s challenging yourself to do the things you never thought you could do. It’s about pushing yourself harder in your workouts, doing more reps, adding sets, sprinting faster or trying new exercises. It’s moving out of your comfort zone. It’s forging ahead when things get hard and not giving up. Those qualities can all be developed in the gym.
Many women, however, still balk at hefting weights, citing the age-old — but inaccurate — myth that strength training will somehow bulk them up. (As you know, it takes much more than just lifting heavy things to get big muscles.) We posted our top three cover possibilities on our Facebook page and asked our readers to weigh in on which image they liked best. We were hoping to get opinions on which pose they liked, but what we got was so much more than that. There was a lengthy discussion about bucking conventional stereoypes and about strength and power versus femininity, and whether those concepts are in opposition. Fortunately, the general consensus seemed to be that women with muscles are also feminine and sexy and beautiful. Many commenters admired and appreciated the hard work and dedication that goes into building a physique like Brooke Ence’s.
Developing physical strength leads many women to developing a different kind of strength, one that has little to do with the physiology of muscle. When we push ourselves athletically, our attitudes change. We frequently discover that we are stronger than we previously thought. “Strong is beautiful, strong is powerful, but it’s not just strong in the physical sense — it’s strong in your attitude, it’s strong in your mental game, in your compassion,” Ence says.
Women shouldn’t be afraid to be strong. And I don’t mean we all have to look like Brooke. (Although, I can’t wait to try her workout on Page 46.) However, when we work hard in the gym, pushing past fatigue, testing our physical boundaries, we develop a sense of confidence in our abilities. Facing challenging circumstances head-on is a matter of courage and determination. That kind of strength is empowering and inspiring.