Once in a while, it really would come in handy to possess more than zero upper body strength. I’m all for standing on my own two feet, and maintaining my independence as a woman, so on days when I’m lugging around two giant trunks of clothing, and I have to ask for help, I get frustrated. I’m not lazy, I just physically cannot lift anything over, I don’t know, 50 pounds? Maybe that’s an overshoot. Maybe that’s an undershoot? (My concept of all forms of measurement— from inches to teaspoons to ounces— is usually totally off.) Either way, my upper body is weaker than I’m comfortable with.
What to do, what to do? Soul Cycle, the only form of exercise I enjoy, other than casually walking, does not improve my upper body strength. Neither does Tracey Anderson’s Upper Body-Blasting work out. Sure, I could hold two jars of Prego Marinara sauce for ten minutes straight, flipping them around and spinning them in strange directions, but what good does that do when I’m trying to move out of my apartment?
The recent exercise/fitness emphasis on toning, fat blasting and long, lithe limbs, has left me a bit befuddled. And weakened. I’m curious as to whether these fitness trends have left a whole bunch of women in the dust, struggling to hold on (literally.). Or is it just me?
I remember being 16-years-old, doing a Tracey Anderson Barre Method video with my friend Caroline and my sister, and hearing the instructor complain about, “thick, masculine arms”. She scared the heck out of us— seemingly equating strength with masculinity. I did not want to look like a guy. No, ma’am. So I steered clear of strength training, and have maintained that abstinence ever since.
And guess what? Now I’m effing weak! It’s a joke to my boyfriend and my brother that I can’t lift anything. “You’re such a girl!” I can’t play Kadima past a fifty-swing rally. I’m more likely to drop a television on your toe than lift it for longer than five seconds, and most yoga poses that necessitate arm strength give me the shakes. The onus to improve my upper body strength is entirely on me. But it’s really taken me a while to move past my fear of being a girl with ‘masculine arms’ and embrace strength, physical strength, as a beautiful thing. I want to be strong! I want it to go without saying that being “such a girl” means being “such a STRONG girl!”– in all the ways. (After all, women are far from weak. Everyone pause and recall how you arrived on this Earth.)