Strong Is The New Skinny: The Rise Of The Fit Woman

It may very well be time to permanently say goodbye to the waif. Lately, more and more women have been flocking to the gym and infiltrating the free weights section.

CBS News featured a story on Katy Brinkley, a woman who, in her own words, “just wanted to lose weight, get skinny.” However, quickly after joining a gym, her cardio proved to be insufficient. Brinkley then picked up weights, lost 30 pounds, and has not turned back since. Recently, she has lifted more than 215 pounds.

Similarly, a group of female students at Oxford University in England have formed a club dedicated to women’s weight lifting, entitled Oxford University’s Women’s Powerlifting. Abi Willet, the captain of the club, told the Huffington Post that it is her goal to encourage women to participate in this sport and share what it has meant to them.

“I think it’s really important that women feel empowered to take part in lifting, especially as it’s not seen as a traditional women’s sport…there’s a stereotype that either women can’t lift or that women who lift somehow become ‘manly.”‘

As Willet stated, many women believe that lifting weights, and heavy weights at that, will make them bulky. However, lifting weights has the opposite effect on women’s bodies. As Anthony Tran, director of fitness at World Gym in Fairfax, VA, stated, “They gotta lift weights! And you gotta lift heavy weights.” Weight training will lean out the body just like many women already desire, but it will also bestow the added effects of a toned, strong body.

In that, weight training comes with many added benefits for women. Aesthetically speaking, this rising trend of strong being the new skinny is transforming society’s notion of beauty for women. More women are focusing on toning rather than becoming skinny, which can be a much more realistic goal for many.

This has a positive effect on many women’s self esteem and empowerment. Regarding her experience as a weight trainer, one member of the Oxford University Women’s Powerlifting club explained what the new short has meant for her.

“When I lift, I’m not worried about my body or how my hair is or how I look…it’s just me and the bar, and how much I can do.”

Additionally, joining the strong is the new skinny movement can have amazing effects on a woman’s health. A study published in PLOS Medicine found that engaging in weight training activities lowered the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later on in life.

“Our study suggests that engagement in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities (resistance exercise, yoga, stretching, toning) is associated with a lower risk of T2D. Engagement in both aerobic MVPA (moderate and vigorous physical activity) and muscle-strengthening type activity is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of T2D in middle-aged and older women.”

With so many amazing benefits, one can easily see why women are hitting the weight room. Strong is definitely the new skinny, and this movement appears to be here to stay.

[Featured image courtesy of Thomas Barwick via Getty Images]