Just over two years ago, I started training at a gym that provides strength and conditioning training. Since then, I've swung more kettlebells, done more push-ups and lifted more weights than ever before. Every week, I sign up for three strength and conditioning classes. And I love every minute of them.
At first, I was pretty skeptical. I felt intimidated by the heavy weights, the svelte people who seemed to know exactly what they were doing, the huge tubs of protein in the reception. But a lot has changed since then. Here are five strength training myths everyone needs to stop believing.
1.Strength training will turn you into the Hulk.
When I started training, I worried my physique would become big and bulky. I thought I was already quite strong, but I found out pretty quickly that I had a lot of work to do! Now I can push up, pull up and plank with more ease than I ever thought possible. I'm definitely stronger and leaner, but not stockier than I was before. Plus, my trainers and fellow classmates have educated me on the benefits of good nutrition, so I'm eating better than ever before.
2. Strength training is dangerous.
I was nervous when I started this kind of training. I figured I was bound to damage my back or strain muscles when lifting weights or doing chin-ups. Not so. With the right instruction from great trainers I've managed to avoid any serious injuries since I started. If I have a little niggle, my trainers will show me some exercises to help iron out any pain.
3. Strength training is scary.
When I first started I was pretty frightened by the intimidating athletes in the classes. They all seemed to speak a language I didn't understand, flexing their muscles and performing the exercises effortlessly. But over time, I've enjoyed getting to know a great bunch of people and have become more comfortable in the classes. Now, part of the fun of my training is sharing tips and ideas on health and fitness with my gym buddies.
4. Strength training won't help with other sports.
I've always been a runner and have been happy to find that strength and conditioning training has improved my performance as an athlete. I'm more agile, my legs are stronger and I have a greater ability to push through pain. I also recently started practicing yoga again after a long hiatus. My core is much stronger and my balance is greatly improved. I'm loving yoga as a complement to my training, stretching the muscles and calming my mind and body.
5. Strength training will wreak havoc on your self-esteem.
Over two years, I've pushed my body beyond its limits. I've taken on physical challenges. I've raced against myself. Somehow, after a tough workout, I feel I can take on whatever the world throws at me. Work stresses. Commuting hell. Endless to-do lists. No hassle to a girl who's just done burpees, push ups and chin ups at 6.30am!
I read an article recently about the idea of "practicing fitness," just like you would practice yoga or Pilates — embarking on a lifelong journey of discovery and fitness without failures or an end point. Continuously learning, improving, fine-tuning, falling and getting back up again. That's the wonderful journey I'm on.