Only Girl in the Gym

A bit of background: I recently joined a gym with three floors

Top: Lockers, Tanning, Spinning, Yoga/Aerobics
Ground: Treadmills, Bikes, Ellipticals, Weight Machines, a few dumbbells/free weights
Basement: the Iron Dungeon!  All free weights, dumbbells, and barbells

I have seen girls on the top and ground floors, but never in the Iron Dungeon (a name I have given the basement).  However, I have only recently joined and have been there about eight times.  A quick search on the internet tells me that this is a very common question that female lifters ask.  Why am I the only girl in the weight room?  Am I the only girl who wants to be able to bench press a bear?

Ok, that second question might not be so common.

This post was prompted by a conversation I had in the Iron Dungeon.  I was in the free weights room of my gym the other day, headphones in, and doing bicep curls like a beast.  The last month or so I had been doing curls with 15 lbs dumbbells at 15 reps/set and felt that it was time to move up to the 20 lbs.  In between my sets, a guy sat down at the EZ Barbell curling station near where I was doing my curls.  We glanced at each other and on my next set, I turned to look in a different mirror so that we wouldn’t be creepily looking in the mirror right next to each other.  After completing my next set or two, he got my attention and thus began a conversation in which I am still unsure what his motivation was.  As this was a couple of weeks ago now, this isn’t a word for word account and some of the dialogue might be out-of-order.

“Spoken” *Thoughts*

Guy: “Are you trying to gain or lose weight?”
Me: *That’s not a question you hear everyday* “I am trying to get stronger.”
Guy: “You can get stronger by lifting lower weights with higher reps.”
Me: *Not exactly correct there, guy* “Well, I’ve read several articles that have stated that is not really the best for gaining strength.”
Guy: “Well, I’m a health and fitness student and I saw that you were shaking while lifting the weights.”
Me: “Yeah, this the first time I have attempted to lift the 20s.  I’m only going to start out with low reps and work my way up to higher reps.”
Guy: “Oh, ok.  I just wanted to let you know that you might want to do lower weights with higher reps.”

I attempted to put my headphones back in and he got my attention again.

Guy: “Where did you read those articles?”
Me: *I didn’t expect to be citing my sources in the WEIGHT ROOM* “I don’t really recall right now.  Women just don’t have the right body chemistry to bulk up like a man.”
Guy: “Yeah, women don’t have much testosterone.  You’re still going to gain weight if you lift heavy though.”
Me: *Yeah, but I’ll be gaining muscle, not fat.* “I’m not concerned with gaining weight.  I just want to get stronger.”

There were some sort of parting comments after that and we haven’t talked since, though I have seen him around.

Here’s the thing, I’m not really going to get strong  curling 5 lb dumbbells for 30 reps forever.  I am going to get stronger curling 20 lb dumbbells for 10 reps and then moving up to 25s at the appropriate time.

I went home that night and had a hard time not seeing this conversation from a militant feminist POV.  Since this interaction, I’ve told the story to a few people trying to figure out his motivations.

Ultimate question: Was he trying to be

A) honestly helpful
B) flirtatious
C) tough man helpful (i.e. “poor little girl doesn’t know what she’s doing”)

Guys tend to think he was flirting.  Girls have been split between honestly helpful and flirtatious.  Me?  Still not sure…

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