Body Positive

Women Need to Support Women in Fitness

Competition hurts us all

While Congress is one big girl power party these days, the gym seems to be lacking. You see groups of guys pumping each other up but the girls that lift only share dirty glances from their perspective squat racks. It’s time to unite in the gym just as we are starting to do everywhere else. We’re stronger together.

The Root of the Issue

Girls don’t dislike girls. The reason we feel as though we are in competition with one another is due to countless years of being told our worth is derived from the value men see in us. Therefore, if another girl seems superior in any way, the “survival of the fittest” instinct kicks in and we immediately feel the need to compete.

On many levels as a society we’ve let this go, but it still lingers in some facets of the day-to-day, such as the fitness world.

Through giving into these ancient expectations, even on a subconscious level, we validate the same ideas we are trying tirelessly fighting against. By tearing another girl down, you’re tearing down the whole team. You’re tearing down yourself.

Team Up to Take Down Judgement

A lot of gym-fear, insecurity, and resulting judgement is all based in the ways we think others are judging us. So many girls won’t even venture into a gym because they think that guys will judge them. Therefore when they do take the leap of faith, all guards are up.┬áDivides are created between the power lifter, runner, spin class enthusiast, and yogi.

Our fear causes us to extend the exact judgement we try avoiding onto other girls. We believe this will somehow take the pressure off of us. Understand where your judgement is coming from, for this is the same place any judgment extended to you is coming from as well: fear and insecurity.

So anyone who’s critiquing your form or skeptical of how much you can lift, is only insecure about themselves. End of story. Don’t give it any more power than it deserves, don’t let it stop you from hitting the gym, and don’t allow yourself to deliver that secondhand judgement either.

Plus, more often than not, no one is looking at, or judging you anyway. Even if they are, then criticizing someone else isn’t going to alleviate that. It only perpetuates the cycle of negativity that you’re fearful of in the first place.

In order to break this cycle and end the commodity of being a girl in the gym, we have to team up.

Stronger Together

While I totally get wanting to enjoy your workout solo, try and at least be warm and welcoming to fellow gym-girls. Offer to spot someone or ask them to spot you. You don’t have to workout together while you’re at the gym, but find a buddy to go with. Then maybe have breakfast or dinner with afterwards.

If you’re into group workouts then form a group of girls to lift, run, or attend a class with. Support each other regardless of what type of fitness you’re into. Perhaps even reach across the aisle and have your yogi friend try lifting or vice versa.

The gym doesn’t have to be another source of competition for women. Fitness can function as another vehicle for us to empower one another and grow stronger physically and mentally. Leave the judgement and competition behind, lace up your sneakers, and get to work.

Cover image via SELF

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Also published on Medium.

Sarah is a junior studying journalism at the University of Miami. She...