The other day I was hanging out with Erin Moone, rockstar spin instructor, co-founder of StarCycle and all-around awesome athlete. We were chatting about the popularity of group training, such as CrossFit, Orangetheory and studio spin classes, as well as the upsurge in female bodybuilding and hard-core fitness events, like Ironman and Tough Mudder.
Now more than ever, women are participating and thriving in previously male-dominated sports, challenging gender ideals of beauty and empowering each other through supportive group environments. Young and old, locally and globally, from all walks of life – women are embracing fitness as a lifestyle. We’re not talking about a 30-day quick fix, Jane Fonda aerobics era and cabbage soup diet-type scenario; it’s a fundamental shift in attitude, priorities and social dynamics. Health, being physically fit is transcending all previous engendered stereotypes…women want a piece of the pie men have long been enjoying.
The psychological shift away from the skinny overtly feminine ideal to a strong, healthy, confident, and, shall I say, far more sexy version of womanhood and feminine beauty is empowering females on a global scale. Women are no longer settling for the “arm candy” look and mothers, like me, are setting a new standard for our daughters to emulate. Even young women, as early as high school, are embracing a much healthier female identity.
Strength equals BEAUTY.
It’s feminism redefined.
Group training, more so than just with a friend, is changing the landscape of things. Fitness communities, both online and in-person, embrace both the social and cultural nuances of women. Let’s face it, as women, we are very social. We like to connect, make new friends and feel accepted. It’s also a very supportive and inclusive environment that welcomes anyone, which is a stark contrast to the cold, sterile gym atmosphere. Whether it’s your spin studio instructor pushing through another 20 second, quad burning hill sprint; the CrossFit box mentality of “harden the f*ck up” or die trying; or your run club buddies who catch up on gossip, fashion and man problems – women are championing women.
More importantly, though, it’s also bringing men and women together in an environment that promotes strong, powerful female role models. What used to be an anomaly, i.e. the lone woman in in the free weights room (yep, that was me!), is now commonplace. And not just hanging out with her bodybuilder boyfriend, either. She pumping serious iron and challenging long established social norms; defying old school stereotypes concerning female athleticism; and redefining the once male dominated spheres…it’s not just a man’s world anymore.
Hello Katrin Davidsdottir, goodbye Barbie.
As a versatile athlete, I’m involved across the whole spectrum of women’s fitness: running, indoor cycling (spin class), weight lifting and team sports. My circle of friends and colleagues includes the boutique studio crowd, competitive bodybuilders, hardcore Crossfitters, marathoners, yoga instructors and professional athletes, as well as women – young and old – just starting their fitness journey, the self-confessed “couch potato turned fitspo” and moms trying to regain that pre-pregnancy figure. The words of encouragement and nuances of language may differ slightly, but the objective is the same across the board: fit, healthy women are strong, empowered females.
In group training, especially, women feel part of something bigger than themselves, part of a community that collectively wants everyone to succeed, part of a sisterhood of women that really do believe women should build each other up, not tear each other down…women empowering other women to be the best versions of themselves. AWESOME!
Feminine beauty is no longer defined by one physical shape, height, dress size or look. Health is the priority – not perfectionism. Women can celebrate the uniqueness of their bodies – shapely curves, ample booties, muscles (yes, muscles!) and so much more.
Ideal feminine beauty transcends all women.
This trend is not fleeting, it’s here to stay. Even in the Middle East, in places like Egypt, women are joining CrossFit gyms and embracing fitness as a lifestyle. It’s truly awe inspiring.
And with the meshing of sportswear and fashion, women are no longer being forced into oversized men’s workout gear, nor are they relegated to the “shrink it and pink it” mindset. Women are demanding and discerning shoppers. They want athletically sound, technologically superior fitness gear, as well as tailored, feminine, cutting-edge style.
We want youthful but classy, hardwearing yet striking, sportswear that screams “this is me, take it or leave it” – I am unique, I am strong, I am beautiful…I am a WOMAN.
As a lifelong athlete and fitness enthusiast, I love what I’m seeing. I love hearing about the life altering changes women, especially moms, have made to better their health. Exercising, training and participating in group activities has empowered women collectively and individually in a way no other social or cultural dynamic could. Women are more confident, healthier and happier. They feel more in control of their lives and certainly more in control of their bodies.
Now that’s Pretty Powerful.