COLUMN: Woman in a man's world

I walked into the “manly men only, hardcore” weight room downstairs of the Student Activity Center, wearing my pink Nike tank top, yoga pants and lime green kicks.

I initially got a few stares, and a couple unwanted winks, but I kept my focus on the prize (getting jacked or ripped or whatever guys call it).

“Where the heck is an elliptical?” I thought to myself.

I glanced down at my scribbled “workout routine” one of my guy friends eagerly wrote for me. Apparently men don’t utilize cardio in their regular exercise routine, because nowhere on the sheet had “burn as many calories as possible on the elliptical.” That’s my idea of a workout.

I looked around, and big shocker, I was the only female in the vicinity. The rest of the women were upstairs in the “normal” gym using the elliptical, stair master and working their abs. But today, I was going to try something different – the man workout.

First things first – the arm bench. I didn’t have someone to spot me, and I wasn’t going to go through the awkwardness and embarrassment of asking a guy to spot me a fourth of what he is used to doing. Instead, I decided to take it light to risk the entire bar crashing down and puncturing my chest.

The guy next to me had a total of 300 pounds he was reppin’ out like a champ, with some obnoxious grunts in between repetitions. The guy standing above him was motivating him in a very deep voice yelling, “Come on, dude; you got it, let’s go baby.” Eh, here I go.

I grabbed two 10-pound plates and slid them on each side of the bar, making my bench a total of 65 pounds. I picked it up, and, to my surprise, it wasn’t that bad. My note card read “three sets of 7, 65 pounds each.” With a few grunts in between – just to see the reaction of the men around me – I completed my first task.

To my surprise, a woman walked in, but she didn’t get as many stares as I did. She fit in the scene a little better with her six foot frame and muscles popping out of her shirt. It just made this experience entirely more awkward. Maybe I should have considered not wearing the pink shirt.

Time for squats. I remember in high school being told I had really good form when I hit the weight room for basketball practice. I banged out three sets of five repetitions, at 135 pounds. Although the guy next to me was squatting about double, I was still proud of myself.

“There you go,” the guy next to me said.

Next on the list was working on the biceps with some curls. Normal girls like me do this all the time. I grabbed the 12 pounders and was on my way to bulging biceps.

Now I was almost done. Next on the list was triceps using the pull-down machine. I considered just skipping that one since I didn’t even know where to find that or how to do it, but I couldn’t let myself down. I looked for a nice looking guy and asked him about it. He was very nice and showed me just how to use it but then went over to his friends and had a few laughs.

Although my body felt like Jell-O, I had to work my back, apparently. I grabbed the pull-up bar and tried for three sets of six repetitions. I made it through one repetition and called it quits. It just wasn’t going to happen. I picked up my water bottle and was out the door.

My 30-minute workout at the downstairs gym was quite the experience. I would not recommend any girls going down there, unless they know what they are doing. I get the whole physics thing, girls aren’t as strong as guys, but the stares made me feel like I didn’t belong there.

To top off the experience, I walked into my apartment, grabbed a Coors Light and turned on SportsCenter.


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