posted on July 22, 2019
Things I’ve learned from our #powerful (women)
I’m about a week away from a big milestone birthday and it’s got me feeling pretty reflective.
Union Fitness has been a huge part of my life for almost three years now, and in that time I’ve both learned and change a hell of a lot. Taking this job was a huge career and life change, and I’ve done it all with a singular focus in mind – to introduce as many women to the power of strength training as I possibly could. I brought it up on my very first interview with Casey, and it continues to be my “one thing.”
I found lifting in my early 20s and figured it out largely on my own (with the help of the internet, naturally). It taught me how to find my own strength, and that in turn helped me build the courage to get myself out of some messy life situations and put me on the path to where I am now. Since our opening in 2016, we’ve seen our women’s class grow from 3 or 4 solid regulars to two BIG classes twice per week. We also have some former regulars who have moved on to their own programs, and a few who even come to class just to hang out and help out. I am proud of each and every woman who has come through this class – especially those who gave it a shot having absolutely no strength training experience.
And while I go into each class with the aim of teaching and empowering the women who trust me with that task, I finish each class having learned something from all of them. Now, as I leave my 20s behind (gooooood riddance), I’d like to acknowledge some of the things I’ve learned from this community of strong ladies that I’m grateful to hang out with each week.
Lifting looks different on everybody.
We have a huge variety of women that show up to class each week – all ages, shapes, and experience levels. Working with so many different people has reinforced how important it is to know that there is no universal “correct form” with regards to most exercises. Every body is going to look and function a little different from one another, so every individual will have to approach each lift differently. A particular example that always sticks with me – I LOVE programming zercher squats. Maybe too much. And I’ve learned that doing zerchers with a big chest means you’ve really gotta do some wedging if you want to be comfortable. I’d never had to think about it, and now I know how to prepare new people who are better endowed than I am!
No one likes zerchers as much as I do.
Too bad ladies! They’re making you better!
You don’t need to wreck yourself every workout to make great progress.
I’ve been playing with the structure of the women’s class over the last two years, and I think we’ve finally settled on a layout that works for everyone. Programming works in three week cycles, doing a variation of the main movement (eg. A slow eccentric deadlift week 1, a speed variation week 2, a heavy deadlift week 3) and the SAME assistance work over all three weeks, with a goal of PRing in volume or weight on those movements each week. We do maybe 7 movements in total, and unless there’s a finisher, rarely do ladies leave class feeling like they’re dead or dying. And yet, they’re still all making progress towards their strength goals! There’s a time and place for going so hard you want to puke, and it’s certainly not multiple times per week.
Many women that are new to benching like to pick their feet up and flail them around when the weight gets heavy.
I still don’t really get this one, but we’re all working on it!
Doing hard things is better when you’re doing it with friends.
I’ve seen so many close friendships blossom in this class. It can be incredibly difficult to establish new friendships with other women once we’re out of high school and college, and I truly feel that some of the best relationships are built when everyone involved is trying to better themselves individually.
As UF grows into our new space, the women’s program will grow along with it. Keep an eye out for some time and teacher expansions in the new year!
To all of the women I’ve been privileged to work with this past year: thank you. From the bottom of my heart, you’ve all made me a better coach, athlete, and person. I look forward to making this program even bigger with your help.