I was originally going to write this post solely based on the premise of two point’s that I’m going to speak about later in this article. Now, I don’t watch tennis very much only when highlights come on ESPN or something-but this is too disturbing to ignore. This past weekend, a new women’s Wimbledon winner was crowned…but she was also crowned with a bunch of nasty names to go along with it. It was brought to my attention through an article. In case you’re too busy to click on the link, the article was written about the horrible Twitter responses around the world about the 28-year old winner, Marion Bartoli of France.
Now, anyone and everyone who has watched tennis are very aware of the “type” of women that have played the sport and won. Each are scrutinized in some form or fashion, but this one really (*pardon my french*) lit a fire under my ass. I have spent the last 6 years training and empowering women to become stronger, more confident and secure in their bodies. If the barrage of these negative comments from people about a woman’s looks in her pursuit of this amazing accomplishment aren’t enough, then what hope do little girls of today have of being great or reaching their goals?
Having said that: GIRLS NEED TO BE IN THE WEIGHT ROOM. It’s hard enough as a trainer to be able to train women without the concern of “being too manly…” or ” too bulky like those bodybuilder women.” These are legitimate concerns though. For years I would dis-spell these concerns and push them off as “non sense”, but if a client believes it to be true, it’s a problem. This ideology starts early too. I can’t tell you how many times my female clients tell me ” I wish I had this stuff back when I was younger.” The neglect to educate and support women in the weight room isn’t as bad as it was, but it’s nowhere near where it should be. Fortunately, trainers have the help of women who know their stuff, like the “Girls Gone Strong” group and countless women around the world. However, I have seen there are more and more ways teenage girls are beginning to make their way into the weight room.
Besides the weight room, sports are a fantastic way to open a kids mind to just about anything. They become more creative, learn to work well with others, and have a fun and active lifestyle. I have a client who’s 4 year old daughter wants to play baseball like her older brothers after watching them play. She’s a super-athletic kid and it’s always a pleasure when she comes in wanting to push the sled or stand on it while her mom pushes it (*did I mention I like this kid?*). But she doesn’t want to play T-Ball, she wants to play “REAL BASEBALL!!” I love it. Now, at 4 years old they don’t NEED to be in the weight room. In fact, they need to be outside playing (all kids should be, really). As they get older, of course, strength is going to become a more important role in enhancing performance and basic maintenance on the body. This should be done as soon as they can to put on muscle mass (not like a bodybuilder) for athletic performance reasons as well as self-esteem. With the help of sports, they’ll want to become better and work harder. Strength training will be a major component in that pursuit. I have been fortunate to have worked with three girls to help them prepare in their sports (gymnastics and volleyball). The agility, speed, quickness and strength have been apparent after consistent and hard training. Nothing fancy, just doing ol’ fashion weight training in the off-season. We have seen this in all kids here at AF, but as more girls come in, they’re coming in playing a sport OR aspiring to play one.
For men, women, or children, social support is essential in any aspect of life. No one really wants to do anything alone. Life is just way harder. With the awfulness that you hopefully are now aware of about Marion Bartoli, that’s not the kind of social support I’m talking about. For kids, parents being there at your biggest game of your life or getting you practice on time is essential. But parents being there for their training helps, too. Sure, you can’t be involved in their sports training (unless you’re volunteering) but being a teen, that may not always go well. My dad raced around the bases one day at the end of baseball practice against another dad; the man sprinted around first, and ate dirt rounding second. Scarred for life (that’s not the kind of social support they need either :P).
But a perfect example is of a pair of ladies, a mother and her teenage daughter Cathy and Kayla (in the photo above). Cathy (the mom) wants to get in shape and Kayla (the daughter) is trying out for her high school volleyball team. To me, there’s no reason why they can’t achieve their goals together. Plus, being in the same place, in the weight room, getting their “swole” on (slang for lifting weights with purpose….not bulking) is great for the both of them. It helps to be in a training environment like ours that has all kinds of people just getting after it in the gym. This kind of support isn’t necessary, but it certainly helps. As coaches, we support these kids, too, by holding them accountable for their schooling as well. If they’re not making the grades, if they’re not on the team; if they’re not on the team, they don’t need/deserve their parents forking over hundreds of dollars for their training.
Mind you, these aren’t THE best ways to getting your daughter to weight train, but they’re ways that I have experienced. At the end of the day, regardless of sports or any external factors for weight training; being healthier, having more confidence, and feeling awesome on a daily basis is always a great “excuse” for getting in the weight room. In response to the negative tweets about Marion Bartoli, she says:
“It doesn’t matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.”-Marion Bartoli, Wimbledon Champion
That’s what it’s all about. Ignoring the naysayers, dreaming big, and hardwork. It all pays off in the end.