Charlotte Moore explains how she ditched the tiny pink weights and stepped into the free weight section at the gym
Two months ago, I was inspired to rebel against everything women’s magazines have told me not to do. That’s right, I moved away from the pink 2kg dumbbells and started using those big, scary, black ones.
I hope my story will inspire frightened females everywhere, who want to pick up something heavier than a celery stick, but live in dread of becoming ‘bulky’.
My lifting got off to a bad start
My first experience of weights wasn’t a good one. Somehow, I managed to let myself get seduced by the amazing before and after pictures from latest food and fitness guru The Body Coach. Huge, yet seemingly achievable transformations combined with a stonking social media presence persuaded my other half and I to join up for the price of three months’ gym membership.
For various reasons that could be a huge ranting post on its own, it wasn’t working for either of us, and thanks to a casual mention from someone in the unofficial Facebook group I was in, I stumbled upon the genuine food and fitness genius that is Mike Matthews.
The ‘aha’ moment
After browsing his site muscleforlife.com, I signed up for his emails and podcasts to find out more. I learned so much from his blog articles in such a short amount of time, that I felt confident investing £10 in his book Thinner, Leaner, Stronger. This is the female version of Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, and although they share much in common, there are some tweaks in there. I was totally absorbed within the first few pages, and I read the whole book over a weekend.
He explains in great detail, backed by actual science, why you should eat and lift in particular ways, depending on what you want to achieve. The more I read, the more excited I got about trying to lift weights. I say try because I’ve been conditioned by magazines and the media throughout my life that lightweight, pink (essential!) dumbbells, exercise classes and 30 minutes of steady jogging on the treadmill were the only ways to get that toned look I should be aiming for.
An easy-to-follow plan
The book specs out a lifting plan for a whole year divided into eight-week sections, so I immediately started the first plan that Monday morning. I was excited and terrified at the same time – excited that I had a structured programme to follow, yet terrified that I had to do it alongside the muscle heads in the big boy gym. They say you’ve got to fake it till you make it, so I confidently walked in with my head held high, while feeling like an out-of-place, quivering jelly on the inside.
I was the only woman amongst the 15 meaty men at 7.30am that morning. Now, I know I should have booked myself a proper weights induction with one of the instructors, but that would have taken days and I just wanted to get started (I’d suggest you read the book the weekend before your sensibly pre-booked Monday morning initiation). Luckily, I managed to figure out what and where most equipment was that I needed, with lots of casual/furtive glances during my rest periods.
Watch out, gym junkie about
I’m an all-or-nothing kinda person, so I went straight into the weekly five-day lifting plan, which includes 20 minutes of HIIT at the end of each session. The more time I spent with the big boys, the more a genuine confidence started to grow. I felt proud to represent the female lifting contingent, and there was an unspoken camaraderie amongst any other ladies that came in.
Very slowly, over my first eight weeks, I noticed that a couple of women were starting to appear on a more regular basis. I felt like a real pioneer of change.
My reward for two months of hard work
I can’t believe how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. The weight for every lift has increased to at least double from where I started, and I’ve noticed a few little muscle bumps attempting to breakthrough on my arms and legs.
The best part is that I’m excited about lifting every day and finally feel part of the club enough to wear a fitspo vest that says, ‘Live, Love, Lift’ (something I’ve always secretly yearned to do).
More from Charlotte: That Copy Girl.