Those who train at IntoYou know i have two little girls, and obviously i was a girl growing up. The statistics on teenage girls are pretty horrifying, with 86% of students reporting an eating disorder by 20 years of age, the majority of these are girls (About Eating Disorders/).
Girls seem to lack confidence, and whether that is the media’s fault for publicizing an unrealistic body image, or the culture we are brought up in, I am not sure. I have had personal experience of being told to my face that i am of less value simply because i’m female, and that there are certain things in life i’ll never do because i’m “too small” and “too weak”. Needless to say it never stopped me (although it did affect my confidence and hurt my heart!). I did not avoid the pitfalls of an eating disorder entirely, but I was lucky to be logical enough to realise when something wasn’t working for me.
As with anyone who lacks confidence, strength training goes a long way to boosting it. When your body is under physical pressure (like under a barbell), the strength of mind required to move the barbell is similar to when you’re under emotional or mental stress. The skills that you acquire to cope with physical activity are transferable to coping with emotional or mental pressure.
If our girls are to be resilient, i believe that we need to train their brains, and i believe that an effective way of training one’s brain is with physical activity. Physical activity is a learned skill, it is something they can work at and get better at. It is something that they can accomplish, something that they can measure an improvement with, and something that they can take pride in, in a way that school work doesn’t necessarily foster.
For example, lets think about Art. Art is judged on a subjective view, so a student can pass or fail depending on someone’s judgement of the work. Or if we consider maths, the questions are answered right or wrong; it’s very black and white, and there’s no “you’re almost right” in a maths exam. In the gym, perhaps the student can’t do a squat, but what can they do? The gym is all about training what you can do, and building on it. Every milestone is a new achievement, and one day the student will accomplish a squat and be excited about it! In addition, we have the release of all those happy exercise hormones circulating the body, so our girls go home on a little buzz, having accomplished something every time they train.
Our IntoGIRLS sessions were developed because of the spectacular successes we had with other teenage girls in our one-on-one sessions (See Alana Hits The Formal on a High). The objective of these sessions is to simply be there for the girls, and for them to be there for each other. We have a loose session plan, but our priority is FUN. They can do structured lessons at school; at the gym we are about cultivating a culture of pleasure in movement.
The sessions are restricted to girls aged 12-17 years, and are on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 4.30pm. Contact the gym if you want to try it out. Time will tell if we can make a difference!