What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Kentucky?
Bourbon? (yes, please) Horses? Hillbillies? Probably at least one of those was your initial thought. What about Powerlifting? Not so much. I’m from a small town in Western Kentucky (375 people, according to Google), and when I train it’s like the circus comes to town. Guys will literally stop and watch me do a set like I’m deadlifting with 3 heads!
I started off lifting in a 24-hour commercial gym (not my first choice, but you have to do what you have to do) and honestly, I thought it would be a decent environment because my current town, which isn’t much bigger, is filled with coal miners. Big, burly mean with black lung, they will surely appreciate a lady that can move heavy weight! WRONG.
I’m not kidding, one day I went up to a bar with 135 pounds on it to start warming up for deadlifts, and a guy had the nerve to ask me if I needed him to take the weights off for me. You could probably see the steam shoot out of my ears! I laughed and responded, “If I need your help I’ll let you know.” Then worked my happy butt up to a 315# triple while he watched with his jaw on the floor. I did all but shoot him the finger after flipping open my lever belt (like a classy lady, of course).
The majority of people that trained at that gym do bodybuilding shows, so I guess I should be more understanding of their interest in how I train. But then again, I don’t stare at them while they hump up curls from their thighs and constantly pose in the mirror…
You know, if all the people did was stare, I think I would be okay with that-- I have my headphones in and am usually in my own world when I train. However, guys would come up to me between sets, wave until they got my attention, make me take my headphones out, then proceed with snide remarks like, “You better be careful, you might hurt your little body.” Or my personal favorite, “You sure are strong for a girl!”
You can ask my husband, the last time a guy said that last comment to me he rushed over between me and the dude and said: “Buddy, you don’t want to start that convo with her.” My husband has probably kept me from a few spats with my fellow male lifters in the years past, bless his heart.
Here’s how I’ve matured through those conversations:
- No matter the backhanded compliment, say thank-you and put back in your headphones.
- Constantly reminding myself I’m not training for anyone else in that gym. They don’t feel my high from a PR. They don’t feel my pain from missing one.
- Take it as an opportunity to show that women are strong, powerful, and resilient. Because, jokes on you boys, your ego doesn’t hurt my feelings!
Throw on some DMX, and enter the gym with confidence, ladies. If this small town girl can, so can YOU!
You’re worth it.
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