Womanhood and fitness have had a complex relationship in western society. As the feminist movement progressed, society’s attitude towards womanhood and fitness changed. But many young girls still feel intimidated to add more than just cardio to their workout routine. Women on Weights is a program founded by Lisa Martin to aid young women who are interested in joining the weightlifting community but may feel timid or uncomfortable in taking the first steps.
The program was formed during the 2016 fall semester. Since its establishment, there have been many young women who have completed the program and felt confident integrating strength training into their workout. The program went on a hiatus due to the pandemic but finally made a comeback this semester. The group meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. and acts as an introduction to strength training. The number of attendees had to be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the small group size has served as a positive way for the individuals to become a closer community.
Martin’s goal is to create a safe space for young women to become accustomed to strength training and learn proper techniques and routines that will help them reach their goals and feel comfortable in the weight room.
At her time at the Mount, Martin has seen a significant change in people’s attitudes toward women’s fitness. “ I've recently seen a change in the past years at Mount, women using the strength for more than previously,” she noted.
Though attitudes surrounding women and fitness have begun to change, prejudices regarding strength training still exist.
As someone who is a strength training veteran, Martin explains, “A lot of the times when people first meet me they say “oh I thought you would be bigger” because they assume that people who strength train do it to gain muscle but I train from my body which my goal is not always to get bulky.”
Many women fear that weight lifting will make them bulky which is not seen as a feminine trait in western society. Through the Women on Weights program, Martin has worked to break that stereotype. Martin points out the western ideology of humility is changing and a lot of participants who at first feared becoming “bulky like men” have realized that that is a common myth surrounding strength training. Many participants during their time in the program have realized that weightlifting is not about your outward image but about how you feel on the inside, it’s about feeling confident.
Since running the program Martin notes that there have been no negatives and things have only been improving she has confidence in the participants grow as they learn techniques to help them feel more confident while strength training. Many women have also created new relationships from the program and she has worked to maintain an open and welcoming environment for all.
For women who are interested in the program but might be hesitant to join, Martin stated that “they have to be ready, everyone has to start somewhere but when they’re ready even if they are anxious I’m happy to talk to them.”
Lisa Martin’s last piece of advice for women in the fitness community is that she wants them to feel empowered and strong that fitness is not about perfectionism but empowerment and confidence.
The Mount Weightlifting Club is hosting a weightlifting competition on Saturday, March 26. With a strong program like Women on Weights, Martin hopes to see a larger turnout of women for this upcoming competition.