Have you ever wanted to experiment in the weight room, but ended up leaving because you felt too intimidated by all the men lurking around? The gym tends to be a male dominated space where women can feel uncomfortable in their fitness abilities, a fitness class is a great way to empower other women while working on your own health. Run Your World spoke with a female fitness instructor, Veronica of Loyola’s Halas group fitness, about her experiences of teaching and guiding women to becoming more confident while at the gym.
- Have you inspired other women to be healthy?
V: I sure hope so! I like to encourage my friends to come to my classes, or come with me on my runs, or do other workouts with me. Personally, the message that healthy is different for everyone is what is most important to me. It’s what I talk about in all of my classes, and what I hope everyone takes away from them. Healthy looks and feels different for every person, and sitting and comparing yourself to someone else isn’t effective. Working out and being healthy takes time and dedication, and it’s completely personal- you have to find what works best for you.
- What experiences led you to become a fitness instructor?
V: I came into my freshman year with low confidence, and I lived pretty close to Halas. In my spare time, I would head to the gym and run on the elliptical for 30-60 minutes. Eventually I was looking for something more challenging, and I started to attend classes and look into lifting and building muscle rather than just losing weight. I became much more aware of my health overall. As a result, I became much more interested in Halas as a whole. I went through group fitness instructor training and became certified in August of 2015, and I have been teaching body tone and cardio kickboxing ever since.
- Why do you think that women take classes led by other women?
V: I think women are empowered by each other, and unfortunately the gym is often viewed as a male-dominated space. When classes are offered and taught by women, other women are significantly more comfortable and confident in their own abilities. Seeing women in fitness leadership is important in allowing other women to recognize their own potential.
- Have you noticed any differences in the way women work out surrounded by other women compared to men?
V: In my experience, the comfort level women have while working out is often correlated with experience. The gym is a pretty intimidating place overall for someone who is new and exploring her fitness interests. In group fitness classes, which are majority women, I would say they are much more likely to try something new and ask questions than in other areas. In those other areas of the gym, I feel that comfort is indicative of experience and confidence level. Again, I think women are empowered and inspired by other women. I think a group of women working to achieve their fitness goals is a significantly more positive, and inspiring space. I cannot speak for all women, but I have had discussions that when working out in a male dominated space, some women feel their fitness, form, workouts, etc. are being judged- when in all reality some of the best form, most difficult workouts, and highest fitness level.
- Are there any types of classes or aspects of the gym that women want but aren’t offered?
V: I think Halas welcomes a lot of different populations and is committed to helping every individual finding their place. The university recreation center is important because it’s one of the only places on campus that students choose to go, so I’ve seen that there is a huge effort made to make sure that all students and members are catered to.