Fitness Diaries: Finding your female power
Amber Brammah is a personal trainer and founder of Lovefit, Cambridge. Mum to Milo and a pre and postnatal specialist, she helps women get back into bodies they love
With both International Women’s Day and Mothering Sunday falling this month, I thought I’d focus on celebrating all that it means to be a woman. From female-specific training, to embracing community, let’s take a look at how we can best support ourselves (and others)!
1. Make yourself a priority
This is absolutely easier said than done, I know that! But the people who regularly lift weights / practise yoga / take a daily lunchtime walk, do so because they have opted to make it a non-negotiable. In my experience, the only way to make this happen is to schedule it in: Write it in your diary, add it to your Google calendar, whatever works. I also hear a lot of women (especially mothers) say that they feel selfish when they make time for themselves. I’d like to step in and say that you’re being a great parent if you model exercise, nurturing friendships, crashing on the sofa with a book. Nothing selfish about that.
2. Include strength work
Despite it being 2022, I still come across people saying they’re scared of using weights for fear of bulking up. Trust me when I say that bulking (hypertrophy) is not something that happens accidentally when you pick up a pair of dumbbells to squat with. Resistance training is so important for women, especially as we age and oestrogen declines, so make sure you’re incorporating proper strength work into your programme. It’s vital for preventing osteoporosis, maintaining muscle mass, keeping your heart healthy, and literally keeping you strong for life.
3. Don’t forget the down-training
Another common mistake to focus too much on the ‘workout’ and undervalue the importance of release work. We hold a lot of tension in our bodies (especially when our minds are tense too), so we can’t expect our bodies to keep ‘doing’ more if we don’t factor in any ‘letting go’. Breath work has become more commonplace and is so needed. You could also try restorative yoga or using a mindfulness app. And just having a five-minute routine of gentle mobilisers such as cat-cows, hip circles, and knee drops is a great place to start.
4. Check in on your friends and family
We often hear the term ‘a woman’s load’, referring to the mental load of overseeing and running a household, family-life and possibly juggling paid employment too. It’s a lot! That’s why we need the down-training (see point 3). Disney’s Encanto has done wonders for highlighting how someone can appear mentally and physically strong, but underneath the surface they’re broken. I think many of us can relate. I know it can be hard to reach out to others when you’re feeling overwhelmed yourself. But just a quick WhatsApp message can mean the world to someone, just to know you’re thinking of them. Flipping this the other way, if you’re struggling, then ask for help if you can. It’s easy to dismiss it and think ‘everyone else is having a hard time too, I don’t want to burden them’ – but there are few greater pleasures than a natter and a cuppa with a good mate.
5. Community is key
Try not to compare yourself to others. Instead, find your tribe, embrace yourself as you are here and now, and welcome input from others. International Women’s Day is a great reminder that together we are stronger. So here are some words I shared with my community last year:
Collaborate, don’t compete.
Support, don’t stifle.
Help, don’t hinder.
Lift up, don’t knock down.
Find out more about Amber and Lovefit at lovefittraining.com.
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