I have been working with a female trainee toward a weight loss goal since late February. She has made significant progress to date. Her wild ride has made me consider those on a weight loss journey using free weight training and diet as the primary tools, versus the more traditional steady state cardio methodologies. However, I am not going to delve into the physiology in this article—that would be well beyond my purview. Instead, I wanted to contemplate the value of what I formerly termed the smaller Hardcore Gyms scattered throughout the country.
The term Hardcore has become so overused, in this article, I will refer to them as Real Gyms (my current garage gym fits this mold, at least in my view). Real Gyms have become more common in recent years, particularly with the explosion of Cross Fit boxes.
Here are several reasons free weight training coupled with a Real Gym can be a superior alternative for a female trainee.
Real Gyms are Typically More Private
Real Gyms typically foster a smaller (sometimes more intimate) group training environment. Groups of men and women can train together and push themselves to their max. Friends can comfortably exercise and enjoy both camaraderie and friendly competition.
Training hard requires leaving your specific comfort zone. Sometimes that can be challenging to do in front of a group of strangers; trainees need to be comfortable sweating, grunting, and pushing their body to its limits and beyond.
I once had a female trainee tell me that while training in a commercial gym, a random guy arbitrarily began to spot her and promptly commanded her to complete another three reps. I understand someone trying to be helpful, but specific boundaries should never be crossed. Without knowing the goal of the trainee, the set, and/or the desired rep-range these over-exuberant commercial gym patrons are annoying at best and dangerous at worst. Based on my experience, these incidents don’t occur in Real Gyms.
Lastly, on the topic of privacy, the patrons of Real Gyms don't care what you wear to train. You can wear what makes you comfortable; wear what will help you reach your goals. If you want to wear sweatpants and a tank top, go ahead; if you need to wear a ball cap, do so. The patrons of Real Gyms understand it is your training session, your goals, and there are no dress codes.
Women Love Lifting Free Weights in Real Gyms
“You know what I love about training here? I can grunt as much as I want to and I don’t have to worry about it.”
At Beast Training in Connecticut, we kept a record board to recognize our top lifters for their achievements. The women who trained there wanted badly to be on the board. They wanted to become stronger; they desired to move heavier weights—at least they did after experiencing the adrenaline-boosting rush a set of hard, heavy reps can produce.
Many of our trainees had never previously performed free weight squats or box squats. We definitely heard our share of “that’s too heavy for me,” or “I can’t possibly lift that,” but we specialized in knowing how much our trainees could handle and the methods to get them to the next level and beyond.
The fact of the matter is that the free weight training modalities the take place in Real Gyms produce results; whether the goal is to gain strength, tone, or burn fat, there are rep-ranges that will work to achieve the desired results.
Real Gyms Push Them to Reach Their Fullest Potential
Once female trainees come to understand what they are capable of, the sky is the limit, and they want to push themselves more and more. We have talked to trainees several hours after a good training session to find they are still riding high. Real Gyms help to build confidence. Learning to overcome obstacles in the gym translates to other areas of life. By taking a few hours a week and devoting that time to themselves (and their well-being), female trainees become better equipped to deal with their family and work responsibilities.
Real Gyms Don't Discriminate
In all candor, this is based on our own experience, but we have found that Real Gyms don’t discriminate. They don’t care if your bodyweight is less than 100 pounds or over 400 pounds. Training in a Real Gym will help female trainees achieve their desired results. If you’re smaller and want to get bigger, Real Gyms can provide that programming guidance; if you’re bigger and want to get smaller, they can provide that programming as well.
They can help female trainees build muscle and strength. Real Gyms can help you shape and tone. If you are a female trainee worried about getting too big and muscular, stop agonizing — it’s not going to happen without years of focused training with weights and repetition ranges to achieve that desired result. It’s not going to happen in one workout. Even with focused training (I repeat, even with focused training), it’s not going to happen overnight.
If you are a smaller trainee and self-conscious when training in a commercial gym, a Real Gym may be for you. Likewise, if you’re a larger trainee and self-conscious training in a commercial gym, a Real Gym is definitely for you too.
Female Trainees Love the Results
Real Gyms produce results. The proprietors of these facilities teach their female trainees how to do the movements correctly to build a solid strength foundation. The results speak for themselves, not only in how their trainees look, but how they feel when they are doing everyday tasks.
Learning the proper technique for squatting can enable female trainees to strengthen her legs, buttocks, and lower back. We have found that women love how lifting empowers them. They feel as though they are now more proactive in managing their lives. Not only are these female trainees improving their strength, fitness, and overall physical health, the workouts also help with stress management.
To all current female trainees and those of you running blindly from one task to another, feeling as though you have no time for yourself— find a Real Gym. Set aside two or three productive hours a week (minimally) to allow yourself to decompress and finally consider the most significant person in your life—yourself!