These young female weightlifters may face pressure in a male-dominated activity, but nothing is stopping them.
She started weightlifting three years ago to tone her body. At the time, Celine Chng had wanted to improve her physique as she was a competitive ballroom dancer. Fast forward to today and Celine, 22, has stopped dancing. Instead, a passion for weightlifting took over and she now works out at a gym at least eight hours each week.
Picking up weightlifting came with challenges. Celine admitted feeling shy and nervous when she started weightlifting, especially as a young lady surrounded by men in the gym.
But she no longer feels nervous because she has gotten to know the guys better and has discovered that there was no reason to feel intimidated by them in the first place.
“I’ve learned to feel comfortable in an environment that used to make me feel really awkward,” said Celine, who started off using an empty bar and can now deadlift 82.5kg.
Celine is not the only woman in this male-dominated activity. Samantha Lin, 21, started weightlifting less than a year ago and is now a part-time personal trainer at Elevate gym.
The 1.56m tall student said: “I got interested in weightlifting when I started helping out at the school gym and made friends with other gym-goers. From there, I started weightlifting and even became a certified fitness instructor so I could also help others achieve a better body and lifestyle.”
Samantha, whose personal record for deadlifts is 82.5kg, added: “Knowing how to weightlift gave me the confidence to step in amongst the guys and to do similar exercises with them. My interactive skills have also improved and my social circle has widened.”
Celine and Samantha, who befriended each other at the gym, have moved on from being shy and passive girls at the gym. Both strut in confidently and have no qualms working out alongside male gym goers.
However, they admit they still get a lot of attention in the gym. Both agreed that guys often look at them while they work out.
“I think they’re just admiring me instead!” joked Samantha.
Samantha, whose clients are mostly young women who are keen to improve their physique, added: “As of now, I only have female clients. It is probably the guys’ mindset; they may deem female trainers as inferior to male trainers.”
But these gender perceptions and challenges do not put them off. Instead, Celine and Samantha are inspired to encourage more women to pick up weightlifting.
Celine said: “It is time to move past the stereotype that weightlifting is meant for men. It is also a misconception that lifting weights tends to make girls, especially those with smaller frames, look bulky and too muscular.”
That is not the case for Celine and Samantha, who prove that lifting weights can help to tone the body without ending up looking too ‘manly’.
For those keen to follow in their footsteps, Celine provided a tip: “Incorporate 30 minutes of weightlifting exercises into your weekly exercise routine of jogging three times a week. That would actually supplement and speed up your weight loss process.”
Samantha offered: “I advise girls to give weightlifting a try. Set a time with me and I’ll plan a workout for you and I’ll be there to guide you. I can even tell you more about weightlifting as we train together!”