Chicks don’t lift.

I hear a lot of things in the gym. A lot of it I expect. I live in a pretty small area. A county with 17 towns has a population of 35K people in it. Doesn’t get a heck of a lot smaller than that. Stereotypes are huge here, but the minds are small.

A lot of the time while training and prepping my body for competition road, I got a lot of “Oh you can’t do that” from my male counterparts at the gym. Now, I should add that these were not my gym’s regulars. Those guys (the regulars) had my back. I was part of the group in their eyes. The newbies, sucked. With each new guy who joined my gym, I felt like I had to start from the bottom and prove my worth all over again.

Last night, in the midst of my workout, I catch this tall, lanky thing eying me. Apparently so didn’t two of the guys I tend to lift with. I’m an open person and have no qualms about asking you what your deal is when I catch looks like that. But last night, I just wanted my peace and quiet. I’ve had a long week at work, and my mental state was just mush. Luckily, I had two friends to get my back and ask what this guy’s problem was.

“Chicks don’t lift. That’s just not right.” Was what I heard, over my loud, screaming music.

Really? Did I just hear that? Did I really want to take that 45-lb plate I was loading onto the squat machine and throw it at this guy? No, I’m better than that. Don’t let him get to you, is what I kept telling myself. I watched my friends do their best to reel themselves in too from that comment. Shaking their heads, they came over to spot me for my squat-set.

When I loaded the leg press next. I heard chuckling coming from the cable machine. I take my headphones out, turn to see Mr. Chicks Don’t Lift, laughing at me. My desire for peace left me. I asked what was so funny. Apparently it was hilarious that I thought I could push what I had loaded to the leg press.

Now, I get that I’m small. I’m about 5′ 5″ (most days, but some days I feel shorter) and I’m in the buck-twenty range for my weight. I have a small frame courtesy of my mother’s genes. But that doesn’t mean shit. More than a decade of sports, another decade of pick up games/sports/coed sports and 11 years in the gym, this body is rugged. Not to mention I’ve got a steady 6, almost 7 years of hardcore weight/strength training under my belt.

I bit my tongue, called for my buds to spot me because it was the end of my workout and I knew I was nearing my exhaustion point. With 520-lbs loaded on to the leg press, I readied to do my reps — then heard the chuckling again. Tell me I can’t do something, it’s going to drive me to do it. I know I can do 520 easy on the leg press. My PR is 630 on the leg press. I was a soccer player from the age of 8 until I was 18, and I’ve been running half and full marathons for the 11 years since I finished high school sports. My legs are definitely the strongest part of my body.

12 easy reps completed on my first set. Exaggerated high fives were exchanged with my “spot mates”. Got a drink of water and did three more sets of 12 reps. I unloaded the machine, washed it down. Then, as I was walking by Mr. Chicks Don’t Lift, I gave him the side eye with my head held high.

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Mother. Photographer. Writer. Founder of Fit Fridays for Mental Health. Former powerlifter turned weightlifter. Coach & Nutritionist. Spondy/PCOS/Endo. Bully breed advocate.

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