By: Dave Kergaard
One of the questions I am constantly asked is what changes have I seen during the past 45 years that I have been involved in this iron game. Equipment changes have been dramatic. It all started with just basic free weights, then Arthur Jones invented the Nautilus machines. The evolution of the weight resistant machines has developed into some high tech sophisticated equipment. Another change is in the area of supplementation. When I began lifting, York Barbell's founder Bob Hoffman produced one of the only protein supplements on the market and it was in tablet form. Today's market is flooded with supplements to enhance the training of athletes of all ages.
The gyms today are state of the art facilities with thousands of square footage devoted to daycare, spinning, saunas, racket ball, boxing, cardio, circuit training, tanning, physical therapy, massage, snack bars, lounge areas, and I haven't even mentioned the workout areas yet. It certainly isn't like the old Lakewood, Ohio YMCA where I started lifting or my old garage gym in Rock Hall, Maryland.
With all the advancements over the years involving training, facilities, equipment, supplementation, research, and reference materials, I personally feel the greatest change in this iron game is the advancement of women in the fitness arena. If you look at pictures of the old era even up to Arnold's pilgrimage to Venice, California the pictures show only men working out. This was not a place that you would find a woman. It was not lady like to work out and lift weights. We certainly did not want our wives, girlfriends, or daughters to have, God forbid, "muscles".
Martina Navratilova caused quite a stir in tennis circles because you could actually see the separation of her biceps and triceps. Oh my God, she played tennis and she had muscles. About that same time women started entering the health clubs and would take dance classes, aerobics, and a few would do some cardio. A few brave female souls would even venture down to the weight room floor much to the dismay of most male lifters. This was the male domain and God forbid a woman better know her place and stay away from the free weights. A few of the new exercise machines and some incline boards for abdominal work was okay, but no more.
Why shouldn't a woman lift weights? Everyone thought she shouldn't because she might build muscle and look like a man. Another myth. Look like a man when a woman lifts weights. The problem was no one told the ladies that because they did not produce testosterone this just would not happen. What will happen is the nice development of some finely toned muscles giving a woman a very athletic and shapely body.
As the matriculation occurred from the cardio deck and the aerobics room to the weight room floor women started seeing more positive changes in their bodies. This occurred because muscle burns three times the calories that fat burns. Women loved the new look.
Today, the transition is not complete, but it is certainly heading in the right direction. Women, who understand what weight training can do, have seen miraculous changes in their physiques. Some still do just cardio or aerobics, which are both excellent activities, but the body just doesn't change without using weights. The women who lift weights realize that the shape of their bodies will change through a well-planned program of resistance training.
I will tell you, there is no difference in how a man trains and how a woman trains. They do the same exercises, because they have the same muscles. I am impressed everyday when I see dozens of females of all ages hitting the gym floor doing Hammer strength presses, wide pull downs, squats, leg presses, barbell curls, dips, dumbbell presses, and the list could go on and on.
My point is this, the day of the gym belonging to the man is over, get used to it fellas. It is their gym as much as it is yours. They wear gloves, belts, wrist wraps, and yes I have even seen some use chalk. Personally, I enjoy not only training women, but I also enjoy training with them. Now if I could only keep up with them. It is a new day in training and women are standing side by side with the men in what used to be a man's domain.
Congratulations ladies, for a job well done!
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