Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thoughts from the elliptical

Yesterday I was on the elliptical, looking around the gym. There is really no other choice when you're on the elliptical. You're stuck there for 30 minutes listening to Katy Perry. Anything to distract me, please.

So I was looking around the gym and I noticed something, which I have noticed before at the gym (probably while on the elliptical): Guys lift weights. Girls do cardio.

Have you ever noticed that? It's pretty standard. It also means that I am slightly surprised when I see a girl lifting or a guy on the stationary bike, which I know is stupid, because we are all just there to be healthy and strong, and shouldn't everyone be using both?

Why do we choose our workouts based on our gender? No one told me to go on the elliptical, to go for a run, or not to lift weights. But think about the last movie you saw, or the cover of any magazine. Guys are huge and muscular, and girls are super skinny. Even if no one tells us directly, we are bombarded with these messages all the time. If our aim is to be healthy, though, we shouldn't pay attention to the size and shape of celebrities. According to one study, exercise decreased the risk of dying from heart disease, regardless of other factors like weight. If that's not motivation to exercise, I don't know what is. Lots of other research shows benefits of both weight lifting and cardio exercise. Everyone can, and should, benefit from both. 

So, I challenge you to do a few things:

1. Get out there and work out.
2. Next time you're working out, do something you haven't done before. If you usually lift, go for a run. If you usually run on the treadmill, pick up some weights.
3. Encourage people who are breaking gender norms at the gym (including yourself!).

P.S. Something else also happened to me at the gym yesterday. I ran into a guy I have known since my first day or two at Carolina, and he told me he had read my blog and thought it was cool. I was psyched that I am reaching people, and also felt proud that someone I admire so much had good things to say about this project. Thanks to anyone who is reading, and keep being awesome!

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