I was 15 when I started lifting weights. The option to learn was proposed to me by my track coach during my sophomore year of high school. I was really excited, and when no other girls on the team showed interest, I took him up on his offer. I started out lifting two days a week, with the wrestling team, and as months went on, I got stronger. I began to look more forward to lifting than track practice. It became a driving force, something I needed to do and something I loved. During the summers, I continued training two days a week at the YMCA. I would read anything I could get my hands on that dealt with weight lifting. I immersed myself in the art of the skill.
By the time I got to college, I’d made a promise to myself that I would never let anything come before lifting, not practice, school, or work. I carried a full load, was a collegiate athlete, worked part-time, and still worked out either before or after practice five days a week. Till this day, I still make my training a priority, it is a promise that I made to myself and one I intend to keep. My goal is to master the art of weight training. I refer to it as art because the movement of lifting, when done correctly, molds, and develops the medium you’re working with, which is your body. Lifting is a feeling, to do it correctly, you must know what muscle groups you are training and you must know how to contract those muscles during the lift with little to no interference from other muscle groups. You have to be able to feel where the contraction is coming from. To understand the movement and feel the contraction is the only way to develop the muscles and see changes in your body. The reason most people can lift for years and see little to no change is because, among other things, they haven’t developed the basic knowledge or the skill of feeling the movement. They are just going through the motions of training.
At this point in my life, weight lifting is like a marriage. The love is there, but I have to work on, being “in love,” – the excitement of it. Maintaining that comes with setting goals, finding new ways to lift, keeping things fresh. There are definitely days when I really don’t feel like going to the gym, but I go anyway, because I know one skipped day can turn into two, three, four, a month. I know I can always find a reason not to go, but even on those days, when I get there and I finish my work out, I’m always glad I went.
People always ask me, why do I lift? How do I stay focused? What drives me? My true response is I lift for me. I stay focused for me. I drive myself, if it were for any other reason, I would have stopped long ago. I enjoy working out, it’s something that I fell in love with years ago, and in doing so, have reaped amazing rewards. Lifting is a stress reliever, It builds confidence, there is an assuredness and mental strength that I have that comes from moving heavy weight. I am one of few women that dares to step on the gym floor full of men, and bench almost as much, if not more than the average man. In being able to do that, I show other women and men, you can be strong and still be feminine, you can be muscular and still look like a woman and the only thing that is holding most women back from that drive, is fear of acceptance. Many women fear if they lift heavy and get too muscular, they won’t look feminine, they won’t appear acceptable according to the standards of what society deems a woman should look like. Femininity is a state of mind and feeling, if having muscles makes you feel less feminine, then that is a reflection on your thought process and how you define femininity. I say, set your own standards for what you want to look like, for what femininity is according to you. Carbon copies are boring, be your own kind of original. I lift because it is a part of who I am. My body is the canvas and I am a work of art in progress. I lift because I love my strength and my muscles, I love that I’m not a carbon copy of everyone else. I lift because I enjoy it and because its like eating and breathing to me, it’s something that I have to do to survive, to feel normal, and sustain a sense of self. As long as I am blessed to have breath in my body and health, I will lift.