It was the third week of my weight training class, and I was struggling a bit on bicep curls when the coach came up to me and suggested, “Why don’t you try that with lighter weights so that you don’t build muscle?” I wasn’t sure how to respond other than nodding politely and ignoring him. Why would I even be in a weight training class if I didn’t want to build muscle? Is it really that hard to believe that a woman would want to be strong?
From the very first class, I felt like my weight training coach was giving me mixed messages. On the one hand, he was saying “Women aren’t as strong as men,” and on the other hand he was saying “Women don’t want to be strong.” This frustrated me to no end. Which was it? Was I biologically doomed to weakness and inferiority, or was it that I shouldn’t even try to get stronger in the first place, that I somehow craved weakness? Why was he so convinced of and vocal about my weakness when it was his job to help me get stronger, not to push me down?