I don’t get women into my gym by promising them a great ass. They acquire their awesome asses as a result of doing goblet squats, split squats, kettlebell swings, step ups, reverse lunges, deadlifts…you get the picture. I don’t promise them “toned” arms. But they end up with awesome arms from push ups, rows, chin ups, face pulls, presses….you get the picture. In fact, I don’t promise them anything. They come to me because they want to get stronger. They come to me because they want to move better. They come to me because as one of my clients said to me today, “Because I don’t want to be in pain. Because I want to be able to keep moving this way when I am 90.” And of course, I will not deny the fact that many of them also want to look better too. I am not going to ignore the fact that most women wish they had ______. (You fill in the blank.) I just want other things to take priority.
Because if you promise a woman a better butt or if you promise weight loss or toned arms and after weeks of exercising, it doesn’t happen as fast as they like, she will be left feeling worse about herself than she did before she started. I think that these type of promises encourage negative thinking in women. I think that when you focus on body image, you put a woman’s body image before performance, before health, before confidence. These empty promises encourage a woman to feel bad about herself, not better and honestly, she has enough to feel bad about as a woman. Remember, it is hard enough just being a woman (I wrote about that recently here.) So in my mind, these types of promises should not exist. It is easier and WAY more satisfying to build a woman’s confidence by introducing her to the deadlift (by the way, a great ass exercise), boost her self-esteem by teaching her how to do a proper push up (toned arms anyone?) or a barbell squat (another great ass exercise) than just help her fit into a pair of pants. Women do not need to be reminded of what they don’t have. They need to be reminded of what they DO have and they need to be coached how to use the body they DO have.
Just ask my ladies. The other night, after watching one of my clients bang out a set of 10 push ups, my husband asked her if she started off at my place with such good push ups. “NO way,” she said. “This is what I am most proud of too. My push ups.” She told me that she has also been getting compliments right and left from friends about how awesome she looks and these friends just cannot wrap their heads around the fact that all she has been doing is squatting, pressing and rowing. No running? They ask. No cardio, she tells them aside from a few ball slams and rope slams here and there. Of course, she said, she would rather them ask her how much she can squat these days than how she got her body. 😉
This past summer, I wrote an article about my ladies and their feelings about strength training. You can read it here. The women speak about the empowerment they feel as a result of strength training, how much more confidence they have in their daily lives, how they are able to do things they never thought was possible. They talk about the focus and concentration that goes into training, why they do it, what they get from it. And yet, I still find it difficult to get some women to believe in the power of the iron. I was recently on my Facebook News Feed and I saw a post by a friend of mine (a dancer) who was talking about building a new butt for the new year at Pop Physique. I had heard of this place (it’s a chain) and knew that it was just another type of barre class (They are popping up like mad all over the city. You can read about my feelings in regards to barre classes here.)
I checked out the website and the first thing staring at me was some woman’s ass. Ugh. Seriously?
Right there, I knew what this place was all about. With a little more digging, I found a YouTube clip from one of the classes. Take a look.
Okay, okay….I get it. The point of these classes is to build a better butt. How do you do that when you use no resistance? Do you want to see what a butt looks like from a barre class? Cue picture to your right. Whoa. Now, mind you, during this time, I was also teaching cycling and doing some machine work at the gym. But this is my butt after two years of barre classes. Flat as a pancake. Non-existent. Is it even there, you ask? I just see wrinkles. Yes, there is something beneath the pants. Not much though. And look at my chicken arms too. Hell, look at my breast. Where is the muscle????? Where is the butt? I thought I looked great…..until I saw this picture and saw my body and realized how pathetically weak I looked. I had recently lost weight too (due to not eating as a result of my back injury – in too much pain to eat. This was the year I had my relapse.) But all the time I was teaching my barre class. I was squeezing and pulsing, squeezing and pulsing. Where was my ass to show for all that work??
Fast forward one year. ONE year. Take a look at my ass now after a year of squatting, deadlifting, pressing, benching, doing chin ups, push ups. Uh, big difference, wouldn’t you say? I was still teaching my barre classes (this was the year before I opened my gym), but what had I added into my program that was not there before? You guessed it. Heavy squats, deadlifts, glute bridges. More specifically, weight. Weight, people. Weight. None of that 3lb bullsh**. Real weight. And more weight. And more weight. My goal was a stronger butt, not a “better butt. Hell, my goal was to just get stronger. The butt came as a bonus from all the hard work.
And I continue to work on getting stronger each and everytime I train. And consequently, my glutes get stronger too. So, ladies, if you are looking to build a stronger, more able backside, please for the love of all that is humane in this great world, give up humping the barre while squeezing a ball between your thighs and grab a freaking dumbbell and start doing some goblet squats. Or teach yourself how to do a kettlebell swing. Holy backside Batman! Or roll a barbell over your hips and thrust away! Your glutes will thank you and will appreciate the work. Because the work you do in your “build a better butt class for the New Year” will only work for some time then it stops working because nothing has changed. No resistance has been added. If you stick with 3lb dumbbells, you will end up looking the same. The body adapts. So, instead of working towards a cute ass, why not do yourself a real favor and work towards a stronger body and consequently, a stronger, maybe cuter ass.
Great read! I am guilty of helping women build great booties– but to me that’s just a side effect of our time working together. I think to a degree it’s hard to get the female brain to switch gears from looking better to aging well and feeling awesome. So, perhaps the lure is ‘a better body’ when it comes to strength training, and then comes the realization that EVERYTHING improves from the inside out as you grow stronger and get better at lifting.
I think for ladies like you and me, we started in a place that made us feel like change was impossible. Then once we began feeling it possible and seeing it possible, we want to shout from the rooftops. We want to give the tools, knowledge, and confidence to each woman. It’s a gift we want to share. But for some women, the gift begins with having a great body. We have to show them that it’s much more than that. It may just take a bit of convincing. 🙂
Thanks again for the post! Loved it!
Thanks Kellie! This means so much coming from you as I am a huge admirer of your work. I am really looking forward to finally getting your book too…I pre-ordered this past summer. I agree with you. We need to help women work towards first acknowledging the body that they have now, not tossing it to the side as if it doesn’t work now. Let’s help them work to achieving a strong body – in every aspect. I get so frustrated when I hear women talk about wanting to just tone their arms or get a better butt. Why not help women accept their bodies for where they are now, get them involved in lifting, watch them discover things about themselves they never thought were possible and then consequently, watch their bodies change as they lift more and learn to love themselves more? This is what I love seeing the most with the women I work with. Although there may be parts of them that they are not crazy about, they are way more interested in lifting more weight and getting their squat position right. I have women who want to try my barbell class. I have two women who told me they are giving themselves 6 months of my Basic Training class….which is smart because they need to learn how to move well first and they know this. But they see Michele and a few other women in the class and they think, I want to do that too! It’s fantastic.
Thank you again for your comment Kellie!! I really appreciate it! Good luck with your website….I need to get on top of that and subscribe to it!!! 😉
thank you this was great. I find it via Tony Gentilcore.
I have two comments:
1: every time I hear someone talk about how something creates a long lean muscle. I want to
scream. The only way to make your limbs longer is by an extremely painful operation where they break your limbs then screw you into a torture devise and literally stretch you as your bones heal.
2: If you want to feel taller and have better posture DEADLIFT,
I always feel taller after deadlifting. There is nothing more empowering for a woman than feeling strong inside and out. i’d rather be and feel strong than have a so called “perfect” body.
Here, here Michelle! Thanks for the comments…..I could not agree with you more. As a dancer, it PAINS me to hear people talk about wanting long, lean muscles like a dancer. I know PLENTY of dancers (I dance with one right now!) who are amazing dancers but have short legs…thus short muscles. If you saw them, what would you think? Your femurs are either long or short….blame your parents. 😉 Thanks for reading!
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