4 Things Men and Women Can Teach Each Other in the Gym
There is a short film floating around the web that portrays men acting like women in the gym and in the same manner, women acting like your typical guy. The hilarious film shows women flexing their biceps in the mirror or yelling at each other in encouragement to get that last rep. The men, conversely, gossip and talk about their food cravings. If you haven’t seen it, you have to check it out.
If you’ve spent years in and around a gym like I have, you’ll laugh out loud and even perhaps shed a tear, because the film is painfully true. Us humans are creatures of habit indeed. But we can also learn a great deal from those habits. Of course, the portrayals in the film as well as this article aren’t meant to generalize, stereotype, or offend. While we generalize, there are always exceptions to every rule. There are plenty of super-flexible men in yoga class and there are more than a few uber-strong women out there throwing around lots of iron.
That said, us guys can learn a thing or two from the typical female, and you ladies can probably take a few notes from your quintessential gym rat guy.
2 Things Guys Can Learn from Ladies:
Flexibility is King
We are all fighting a losing battle in fitness. Every one of us is aging. Our muscles will ultimately atrophy and our cardiovascular capacity will diminish over time. Guess what does not necessarily diminish with the years? You guessed it – your flexibility. While you cannot maintain the same muscle mass at sixty that you had at twenty, there is nothing that prevents us from maintaining the same flexibility at that we had at twenty. However, many of us (and certainly most men) are tight as a drum by the time we’re forty. The reality is, you use it or lose it when it comes to elasticity. This often-overlooked component of fitness is vital to maintaining health, injury prevention, and optimal fitness. Guys, you should be in that yoga and Pilates studio with those gals toning your glutes and working on that flexibility.
Smile! Dance! Have Fun!
Turn up the salsa music, guys! Every time I hear the Zumba instructor do her little “whoop” at our gym, I crack a little smile. Those ladies are simply having so much fun in their domain. I frankly don’t get it, but what I do get is that they are having a hell of a time in there. They have way more fun in that Zumba and salsa class than I ever have beating up the heavy bag or yelling at myself to do ‘one more rep.’
Us guys need to take a page from the ladies and not take it so seriously. The fact of the matter is, when we enjoy something and it brings a smile to our faces, we are more likely to stick with it over the long haul. Maybe when we lift weights we can smile pretty after we finish that last rep. Also perhaps, we might learn a thing or two in the dance department. Never hurt a dude to learn how to dance. Hey, that’s where all of the ladies are anyhow – duh!
2 Things Ladies Can Learn from Guys:
Muscle Up and Get Your Lift On
Okay, ladies, it’s your turn. You’re pretty flexible, you were made that way. You know what needs a bit more work? Yup, the muscle department. Men are born with more of it, lots more, and that’s often why your man eats a hell of a lot more and doesn’t seem to gain weight while you have to count every calorie. You want that robust metabolism? Then start packing on some muscle.
If I hear one more lady complain about ‘bulking up,’ I swear. You know what’s even harder than losing weight? Bulking up. The reality is if you’re over twenty-five, you simply aren’t going to bulk up. Your legs may get bigger, but that simply means the fat on top of your muscle hasn’t gone away yet. This isn’t the time to panic; it’s the time to realize your metabolism is about to get fired up. That couple of extra pounds of muscle will greatly benefit you in the long run. Ladies, you should take a page from us gym rat guys and do compound lifts (like squats, dead lifts, bench, and bent rows) and do them heavy. If you want to look toned like a track and field athlete, a boxer, or a dancer, then train like one.
Let It Out and Hit Something
We all are aggressive beings at times. That is our natural state. Repressing it is not generally a good thing – finding the right channel for that aggressiveness is. People who let it out are the usually the Zen ones, so long as they let it out and balance that aggressiveness with mindfulness. That is why martial arts have both an external side as well as an internal one. We channel our energy in martial arts while at the same time staying present and relaxed. Ladies, find a heavy bag and hit it and feel the release.
True success in life (and in fitness, health and wellness) comes from balance and balance is found in the middle. Jung spoke of this concept and of balancing male and female energy. We each are on a continuum of male and female energy, but many of us need more balance between the two. Balance for men means more flexibility and fun, and maybe a little less aggressive energy. Whereas for women, it’s perhaps the opposite. When it comes to success and optimal health and fitness, find your balance.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.