Fix Your Form

There could never be anything as explicit as a sign saying “No Girls Allowed” — but there might as well be. At my gym, I have not once seen a woman in the section where people (i. e. men) actually lift weights.

There are plenty of women on the stair climbers. There are plenty of women stretching and crunching on the floor mats. There are too many women crammed into what just may be the hottest Spinning studio on earth. And there are even plenty of women using strength-training machines that take some of the guess-work out of lifting, if you don’t know your way around a weight room.

That back-room boys club always irks me. I know there’s no reason I shouldn’t lift there, and yet the feeling of not belonging is too strong to push aside.

While my sample size is small, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. The women I’ve talked to about their workouts and the women I’ve worked out with have expressed feeling varying degrees of this air of exclusivity, as well as feeling varying degrees of comfort with and confidence in their own strength-training skills. It’s something by now we know we need to do, but many of us have never been instructed in how to do it.

Your first strength-training session is not like your first time on a treadmill; a good workout isn’t as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. So it’s understandable that no matter how strong of a Spinner or runner or swimmer or feminist a woman is, she may feel a little out of place in the weight room.

Partially to help ease my own discomfort and partially in hopes of easing yours, this week on HuffPost Healthy Living, we launched a new series (starring yours truly — one step closer to that dream of becoming a model!) called Fix Your Form.

I had the pleasure of working with trainer John Romaniello, who guided me through some of the most common mistakes women (and men!) make at the gym, and offered simple, straightforward tips on how to correct them.

In the weeks to come, we’ll cover squats, lunges, triceps presses, ab exercises and more, but we kicked things off with the pushup. Read John’s tips and see before and after photos here. I hope you find the series as helpful as I do!

Does Discussing Hijab Prevent or Perpetuate Islamophobia?

The traditional head-covering worn by some Muslim women is heatedly debated. Is it oppressive and isolating for women, or freeing and liberating? In Europe, countries including France have banned women from wearing the veil in schools, courts, and other public buildings. Personally, I think religion is a deeply spiritual and personal experience that no other person is able to understand or dictate. If wearing a head-covering makes a women feel closer to or more a part of her particular strain of Islam she should feel free, safe, and supported in that decision. Continue reading “Does Discussing Hijab Prevent or Perpetuate Islamophobia?”

She Was Not Asking For It!

Date rape in general is a disturbing topic, but “The Real Date Rape Drug“, a post on Time magazine’s blog, Wellness, is bothering me for another reason. This particular take on the results of a new study is a classic example of blaming the victim in cases of sexual assault.

Rape culture feeds off the idea that the victim of sexual assault is somehow to blame rather than the rapist. Whether it’s because her skirt was too short, she was flirting too much, or she had had too much to drink, woman are constantly faced with the outrageous reaction “You were asking for it”.

But as Feminsting so perfectly puts it: “Being drunk isn’t what puts a woman at risk of sexual assault–being near a rapist [is].”

‘nough said.

The F Word

I’m a feminist.

There, I said it.

For so many (especially young) women, this is–unfortunately–a difficult statement to make, simply because too many people misunderstand the F word.

Take, for example, what happened to me yesterday. I went out for $3 beers and 20 cent buffalo wings with a group of my closest female friends. (Which, by the way, was just as indulgent, delicious, and fun as it sounds.) As the beer flowed, the conversation got livelier. I’m not even sure how it got started, but a comment I made drew this response from one of my best friends:

“Yeah, but you’re the only feminist here.” Continue reading “The F Word”