Love letters from Ana

A woman’s gym etiquette

When going to the gym, a woman must follow a certain etiquette — after all, shes treading on foreign territory. She must look adorable in her designer fitness wear coordinated with her sorority muscle tank, or at the very least be sporting a Lulu headband to show off a touch of affluence and elegance. She must do a strictly low resistance cardio workout, preferably on the elliptical for an hour at the very least. And lastly, she must never ever think of entering the “mens section.”

Okay, I hope that first paragraph read as sarcastically as I meant it to because while there should by no means be a code of conduct for a woman at the gym, sometimes there certainly seems to be. I am all for the health and fitness revolution. Its a great effort, but with it has come unachievable standards of beauty, particularly for women, and a counteractive result of gym-phobia or “gymtimidation.

While the ideal definition of a trip to the gym would be to kick up those endorphin levels, eliminate stress and feel great for the next 24 hours, most of us go for reasons of vanity. Of course, ever since “Baywatch” aired and Jane Fonda released her fitness videos, working out has been all about the appearance of our results. Suddenly, this activity for internal stimulation is this external affair.

This brings me to the aspect of the female gym phobia that is venturing to the free weight section or what Ive heard too many times referred to as the “boyssection.” First of all, from a health standpoint, being a cardio bunny and being on a cardio machine for two hours is just counterproductive unless youre training for a marathon or are an actual athlete. To have an efficient workout, you should also train your muscles with weights while pairing these workouts with a high protein diet before and after your gym session.

Im not saying cardio is bad, but if youre a healthy weight and are still counting the calories down on your cardio machine, youre projecting a super unhealthy attitude on your body and fitness in general. Venture to the weight section for results. If you dont know how to use a machine, ask someone who works at the gym. Ive heard women complain, “I dont like being stared at or judged by the dudes there.” Firstly, there is something called the blank gym stare especially if one is out of breath and recovering. If the staring is for any other reason, who cares? Youre an empowered woman and you should own it.

Also, the free weight section is not the “boys section.” Its just not. We dont have a segregated gym where men must only bulk up and women must only lose weight. The honest truth is that the gym is a communal space. You dont have to look good while youre there, but you very well could look good leaving, and thats just a perk of living a healthy lifestyle.

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