10 Things Strong Women Won’t Tell You by Lisbeth Darsh

10 Things Strong Women Won’t Tell You by Lisbeth Darsh

We are strong women: people of the female gender who lift and carry and run and swim and climb and do way too many burpees. (More than one burpee is always way too many.)

We’re very different from each other, so no one should ever assume that one speaks for all. That would be like one cat speaking for all cats. (Although we would all stop and listen, because cats don’t usually talk and that would be a really cool thing.)

As strong women, however, we share a few things in common besides barbells and kettlebells and sprints and a love of training. There’s an undercurrent to our mojo that contains a few things we don’t talk about, and maybe we should.

So here is the thoroughly unofficial and totally incomplete list of 10 Things Strong Women Won’t (Usually) Tell You. Read it, critique it, run with it, add to it, throw it away, make your own list, burn it, do whatever you want with it. Strong women rule themselves. Always have, always will.

1.) We hurt

Strong women won’t tell you right away when they’re injured, either physically or emotionally. We’ve spent our lives brushing things off.

  • Insult? Brush it off.
  • Bruise? Scrape? Brush it off.
  • Torn ACL? Bleeding head wound? Broken heart? Brush it off.

Seriously though, many strong women have a hard time admitting weakness (just like many strong men). We’re working at it (thanks, Brene Brown), but keep in mind that we don’t always show what’s going on under the hood, and sometimes we need help.

2.)  We’re not fans of that phrase “for a girl”

  • “You’re strong for a girl
  • “You’re pretty good at this for a girl
  • “You’re pretty tough for a girl

Those sentences never sound right or feel right. Can we please just stop using them?

3.) We prefer the women’s barbell for certain lifts

We use the bigger/heavier barbell at times (for movements like deadlift and press and back squat) but many of us like the smaller circumference/lighter weight barbell (the “women’s barbell”) for movements like cleans and snatches. We can manipulate this barbell more easily and it just feels better for pulling movements. It’s not lesser, just different. Please stock it in your gyms so we have options. (It’s not a luxury as much as a necessity for some of us with smaller hands.) Thanks!

4.) Our accomplishments don’t need to be compared to men’s in order to be accomplishments

Ever watch a powerful woman pull 300 or 350 pounds (or more) on a deadlift? Ever hear men comment and say things like “Wow! That’s close to what I deadlift!” Ever really think about that compliment?

We get that you’re trying to be nice, and we appreciate it. Really, we do! You’re sweet. But our accomplishments are important on their own, not just in comparison to men’s. Let us have our moments totally on their own. Thanks for understanding.

5.) We do like our gym outfits

I know, I know. We say things like “What we lift is important, not what we wear” and we mean that. But many of us also enjoy putting together our gym outfits and we do not mind receiving compliments from women and men. As long as nobody is leering or over-salivating, a “You look great!” or “Nice pants!” is appreciated whether it comes from women or men. We like to do good and look good.

6.) We’ve never been big fans of only one “RX weight” in a workout description

We get it. You’re putting a workout on the board and the tradition at CrossFit.com is to just list one weight, and everyone scales from there. But not all traditions are meant to be kept. (Think fruitcake at the holidays, smoking, and men-only golf clubs: traditions best left to die.)

Many gyms take the RX weight and adjust it down 30% for women, so women have a weight approximation for which to scale. That’s cool. Also, some coaches write the workout and then put a percentage (like 70% of 1 RM, or bodyweight) so everyone calculates their own numbers. That’s cool, as well.  There are probably other options, too: something to think about.

7.) We won’t object if you want to help put away our weights

Seriously. Who objects when someone helps? It’s a pain to put away all that gear when you’re finished with a workout.

If everybody helps put away all the gear (not just their own), everything gets done quicker. Never hesitate to help a fellow gym member. We’re cool with helping and being helped. (Or we should be.) Everybody pitch in! 

8.) We (usually) love encouragement, but we (usually) don’t love being yelled at

We’re strong and we can take it, but we usually only like yelling when it’s during a nasty met-con or one of our lifts, and it’s something like “GO! GO! GO!” or “STAND UP! STAND UP! STAND UP!”

The rest of the time? We’d rather you spoke in a regular voice and talked to us. It’s easier to hear what you’re saying when we’re not having to also deal with how you’re saying it.

9.) When we fail (which we do often) sometimes the best thing to say is nothing. Just be with us

We know we failed, and often we know the errors that caused our failure. We don’t always need solutions, and sometimes we just need company—someone to share our pain but not fix it. We can (probably) fix it ourselves, but we would enjoy a little company along the way.

Besides, we’re not experts on everything in the gym, and we don’t expect you to be, either. Just being our friend is enough. (Well, unless you’re the coach, then we do expect you to be an expert.)

10.) We can tell when someone is looking at our assets instead of our eyes

It doesn’t matter if we’re turned in the other direction and pulling 250 lbs from the floor. We know. Don’t be a creep, and don’t be a criticizer: that goes for men and women. We’re all in this space together, trying to be healthy and do something good for our bodies. Let’s enjoy this time and each other.

Remember, most people aren’t even getting off their couches and breaking a sweat, so the fact that we’re all working towards strength and fitness means we have something in common. Let’s celebrate that and each other! Strong women help this world become stronger, and so we all benefit. Raise a barbell to strong women and to strong men! (Or we’ll just raise it ourselves because we’re good with that, too.)