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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Eliminating Exercise Stereotypes


      The other day I was talking to a young lady who informed me that she 'worked out like a girl' and somehow did not workout 'like a guy'.  After disagreeing with her, I realized some inner motivation to write a blog posting on this dichotomy of exercise myths.  I began trying to understand, and wrap my head around, what entails working out 'like a girl', however nothing came to mind.  I mean, when I buy groceries do I buy guy groceries?  Or do I buy girl groceries?  Because clearly that makes sense....But is there really such thing as 'working out like a girl'? If so, maybe it is just the way we use that statement. It seems that whenever I hear that statement used it is in comparison to 'working out like a guy' as if 'working out like a guy' is the gold standard....Hmmmmmm......
     Given my two days of reflection on this topic I have some conclusions to make...

1) Ladies, take pride in all exercise you wish to participate in whether at the gym, in a Zumba class or in your small apartment. If you are to use the statement above, use it in a positive light. Be proud to workout and to be a girl. Moving is moving and movement deserves respect.  Do not simply say, "I can only do girl pushups".  That is nonsense.  From a training perspective, you have regular pushups and modified pushups, that is all.

2) Gents, if you agree that there is such a thing as 'working out like a guy' again use this language in a positive light. Do not use it in a way that degrades how someone else should be working out.  

3) Gents, start going to fitness classes with the ladies! I have been a bootcamp and aerobics instructor in Canada for over three years and can almost count on two hands the amount of guys that came through the door to participate in my classes..... Maybe we could further understand how each one of us workout if we participated in exercises WITH each other, regardless of gender.

4) To both ladies and gentlemen, take the time to critically think about the type of language you are using at the gym, around your friends and around the dinner table. Sometimes positive reinforcement can go very far in breaking down stereotypes. Also, be comfortable enough with your own fitness routine so that you do not feel the need to compare yourself with someone else and their routine.

    The bottom line here is that movement is movement.  I am sure that my friend, and well respected fitness guru, Matt MacDonald, would agree that movement simply feels good and is natural for our bodies.  Whether you are a girl or a guy, movement is very important. 
    Lastly, I have seen many strong women that I both respect and admire as fitness models and fitness instructors. Their mentorship and guidance are some of the foundational pieces of my health and wellness knowledge and philosophies.    Conversely, I have worked alongside 80+ males and elite level coaches whom I learned so much about conditioning, coaching and overall health & wellness in athletics. 
    Be encouraging to those people trying to live healthier lifestyles. That is the standard we need to build healthier communities at large.  It is up to each one of us to break down the gender barriers in the field of  exercise, health & wellness.
    If you have a story to share about this topic or a personal experience with marginalizing language and/or stereotypes at the gym feel free to post below or tweet @wellnessrf.

Ryan Fahey

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