Exercise Trends that Empower Women
These hot exercise trends empower women to be our best.
One goal: fitness. There are countless ways of achieving it, and even more ways of embracing your personal definition of this term. Can you identify one thing in your life that empowers you? The best answer: yourself. There are so many options for fitness these days and while many fleet as fads, others make an impression on society with lasting positive endurance. The following popular workout regimens embody physical and emotional empowerment for women of all ages, shapes and fitness levels. Read on to discover if any of them speak to you.
CrossFit® is a functional fitness method that has skyrocketed itself to the forefront of fitness, and for a truly empowering reason. A CrossFit workout (called a WOD: Workout of the Day) consists of a warm-up, mobility (gymnastic) movements, Olympic weightlifting and functional, varied exercises using body weight and equipment like medicine balls, kettle bells, jump ropes and barbells. These workouts are short but intense, challenging strength on both physical and mental levels. The result is an ultimate physical challenge that is followed up by euphoric adrenaline highs. It becomes less about the number on the scale and more about the number of pounds on the weightlifting bar. It’s also less about the size of your jeans and more about the personal score you write on the whiteboard at the end of every workout. The improvements you see in your muscles and personal records are what end up making you feel proud and strong.
CrossFit workouts challenge what society has conditioned women to believe about their bodies: that they should focus on skinny, lean and purely feminine. Generally, women fear muscles and bulkiness, but in CrossFit, bulky is in the eye of the beholder and muscles are welcomed with open arms. CrossFit is also unique in that it offers an incredibly socially supportive environment. It embodies a holistic lifestyle that tailors itself to any age and any fitness level. WODs can be easily modified to accommodate inexperience, apprehension or even previous injury, but there is no question that over time you will begin to push further and further toward individual goals and personal records. Each CrossFit workout will drive you past boundaries and far out of your comfort zone. You’ll gain muscle. You’ll gain strength. You’ll totally need a hot tub afterward. And with that, you’ll gain confidence in the fact that you really can do anything, even beyond those gym walls. How’s that for empowerment?
RUNNING, CYCLING and TRIATHLON RACES
Marathon and triathlon: such intimidating words! There is something to be said about the physical and mental endurance required to complete a race of this nature. More and more women are embracing races like these, yielding a host of impressive physical and emotional results. Participating in a 5K, 10K, half marathon or triathlon isn’t just about a race. It’s about setting goals and turning the seemingly impossible into a glorious reality. It’s about the journey from start to finish, a journey that begins months (and even years) before setting foot on that official starting race line.
When you embark on a training program for a race, whether for a simple 5K or a full on Ironman, the finish line can seem impossibly far off. In fact, many people hear the term triathlon and assume they will never have the stamina to pull it off—but this couldn’t be farther from the truth! There are actually many distances in triathlon ranging from sprint (1/2-mile swim, 12-mile bike, 5K run) to a most ambitious full Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run). There are also a variety of multisport options that include duathlons (run/bike/run), aquathlons (swim/run/swim) and aquabikes (swim/bike). The bottom line? Training and racing will open doors to not only to better physical health, but also confidence and camaraderie that will empower you both on and off the pavement.
Boogie-based fitness is hardly a new concept, yet it continues to evolve as an incredibly empowering sport for women. It started with Zumba and morphed to include Latin and Bollywood-inspired dance methods, and from there it has moved in virtually every direction. This method of fitness is more social. For those less rhythmically inclined, feeling uncoordinated and laughing at oneself is all part of the process. The art of dance can empower women a level of freedom and autonomy that otherwise might not be found in the everyday stresses of life. There really is no greater feeling than letting go, nailing a difficult step or a challenging routine and feeling that fire light up inside of you.
As far as dance options go, there truly is something for every taste. Traditional ballet classes cater to grace and poise, while hip-hop routines capture a raw edge and progressive sense of self. Even ballroom dance classes can help boost self-esteem by encouraging focus, drive and accomplishment. There are also a host of new, integrative dance classes popping up around the country. Pound uses weighted drumsticks as props, tapping the ground and air to a series of challenging rhythmic exercises. 305 Fitness is a Miami-based cardio routine that combines the intensity of sports drills and HIIT training with dance moves and live DJs. All of these dance varieties ultimately encourage fitness’ most promising by-product: fun.
Yoga is perhaps a less obvious choice for empowerment, but in all reality it might be the most significant. Much like CrossFit, Yoga breaks down societal stigmas placed on women and encourages great strength, a majority of which comes from deep within. Yoga encourages an overall sense of balance and presence, with countless postures that focus solely on breath and alignment. Yoga also serves as a mental and physical detox, encouraging a flush of toxic buildup within our cells and also negative thoughts that weigh heavy on the heart and mind.
Women endure a great deal of societal and familial stress, which can take a toll on posture and alignment. Yoga offers great back bending and balancing postures that help to re-align the spine and relax the shoulders properly down the back. Yoga also helps women to focus in the midst of life’s tensions and chaos. It connects us to ourselves and to others, uniting us all with breath, energy and a confident presence. This presence is rooted in our feet and this connection to the earth allows for clear thoughts and the ability to better hone in on intuition and overall life awareness. Women can use a yoga practice to tear down various physical and emotional expectations of modern society, assisting in self-discovery, emotional balance, cerebral stability and an overall physical strength that translates to a happy life at any age, size or shape.
At the end of the day, only you can best judge what works for you, what motivates you and ultimately, what empowers you to be the greatest version of yourself. You may try one or all of these, or you might discover something completely off-the-wall that speaks to who you are and what gets you going. No matter the case, use fitness to inspire, encourage and empower yourself!