A new generation of females are starting to dominate the weights section at local gyms, with women choosing to lift heavy and build muscle.
Misconceptions that women should be smaller and skinnier are being thrown out the window by women all shapes and sizes who are proving that the weights room is not only for big and buff men.
Tenesha Pascoe is a former personal trainer turned powerlifter who recently competed in her first powerlifting competition. She encourages women to take up space in the weights section and is now noticing more females strength training.
“It makes me feel excited and so happy … I want females to lift heavy,” she says.
Pascoe would take her female clients straight to those male-dominated areas in gyms that women can find intimidating.
“To put it lightly, men can be creepy and woman don’t want to be judged,” Pascoe says.
She experienced this type of intimidation firsthand at her local gym a few years ago.
“I went to a gym in (outer Melbourne) and I actually stopped going to that one and went to a different one because I got intimidated,” she says.
Patrick Sullivan has been a personal trainer for two years and says that he regularly hears his clients wanting to build muscle.
“I am certainly hearing more new members refer to strength training in their initial consultations,” Sullivan says.
As well as the physical health benefits of strength training, there is also the social aspect of finding a community of like-minded women who have a passion for lifting heavy, Pascoe says.
“I’ve made so many friends purely from lifting and the gym,” she says.
“The way I made friends with one girl was she was on the leg press machine and I was at the squat rack and I was gobsmacked that she was pushing 200kg … I told her that and we became friends.”
Both females and males are also strength training to benefit their mental health.
“I have definitely noticed a connection in people building strength and improving their mental health … it makes me so happy to see people recognise the link between their mind and body,” Sullivan says.
Pascoe’s best advice for women wanting to start strength training is to give it go and remember to ask lots of questions.
“Just start and sign up a gym … even sign up with your friends and go with them.”
Pascoe is currently in preparation for her second powerlifting competition in October.