Feminine infiltration of traditionally masculine workouts

Feminine infiltration of traditionally masculine workouts

Emily Doran

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a rapidly developing trend in the fitness world: the feminine infiltration of traditionally masculine sports and workouts, such as MMA, boxing and weightlifting.

From what I can tell, the growing number of women who participate in these physical activities must be the joint outgrowth of the feminist movement and the increasing research regarding the importance of muscle mass for women, not just men.

Together, these two systems of thought propagate a relatively new and very interesting attitude: Women are encouraged to be strong and independent and to break down the barriers of traditional gender norms, and this ideology flows very naturally into the fitness world. No longer are women confined to jogging on the treadmill, doing yoga, or to lifting lightweights in an effort to tone muscle as opposed to developing functional strength.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with these forms of exercise—they are, on the contrary, beneficial in many ways—it is encouraging to note that women now have a broader range of exercises from which they can choose.

Female participation in sports is not particularly new (with the enactment of Title IX in 1972, for example, the number of girls engaged in sports increased significantly). However, female participation in workouts that are traditionally considered masculine seems to be a relatively recent development, challenging long-held notions regarding supposed limitations associated with femininity, especially the concept of female weakness.

I find it particularly encouraging that there are some well-known female athletes (Ronda Rousey comes readily to mind) who are bringing this issue to the forefront of the public eye and tackling it spectacularly, destroying the notion that women are frail.

Still, as with most gender-role-defying developments that are only just breaking onto the scene and affecting public consciousness, the female infiltration of traditionally masculine sports is still experiencing some level of prejudice. For example, while some people hail Ronda Rousey and Serena Williams as role models for women in the fitness world, as leaders in the effort to prove the physical potential of women in general, and as breakers of gender stereotypes regarding female weakness, there are still individuals who criticize the physical appearances of these women, scoffing at their muscular forms and decrying them as being “masculine.”

Such criticism is absurd and based upon an outdated concept of femininity, which is centered, again, on female weakness and timidity. Hopefully, as female participation continues to increase in sports that are traditionally considered masculine, this sort of criticism will cease.

As for me personally, ever since my brother introduced me to weightlifting and powerlifting three years ago and ever since I started boxing and kickboxing last summer, I have been hooked on these fun and aggressive workouts. Few things make me feel as powerful or as dominant as delivering a knockout punch or lifting something heavier than myself. It’s a shame that these workouts were male-dominated for years, since, as many women like myself have discovered, the feelings associated with these types of exercises are inexpressibly exhilarating and addictive. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you try one of these traditionally masculine workouts.

With that being said, though, I have one final and important note to add: As with most exercises, the ones that I have described in this article require proper form in order to prevent injury. If you are unsure how to perform a particular exercise, please consult a certified trainer before attempting it.