STRONG is definitely the new SKINNY. We ladies are realizing that lean body mass (muscle) is metabolically active (and burns calories at rest) and also looks better on the body than fat tissue does (though there is a myth that they ‘weigh’ the same; scientifically inaccurate). Most of my clients are looking for trainers, Pilates, and yoga these days rather than running, walking, and spinning since they realize that weight-bearing exercise causes fat to displace muscle and increase resting metabolic rate (meaning you can eat more food!). I, too, have completely given up any cardio besides chasing around my dog, as I believe my time is more efficiently spent in Pilates, yoga, and barre. I used to obsess about the number on the scale; but now I’m much more disappointed when I have to use the 2 pound weights in barre class rather than the 3 pound weights.
Our body image/culture as women is thankfully evolving from worshipping waifs to worshipping weights. New guidelines are in place to reject underweight models, which is certainly a move in the positive direction from ‘thinner is better’ but I worry that we will develop body obsessions on certain body areas’ muscles, how toned they are, getting a six pack instead of a “thigh gap”, and how we can “spot treat” muscles (i.e. just tone one area of the body) I personally like clients to focus on their fitness improvements; how much more weight/resistance they can handle after x weeks/months of training and how much easier exercises become over time, rather than focusing on the body / how it appears.
I think Pilates is really the best, in general, for females. It stabilizes and strengthens the core and back, which when weak, are the root causes for so many orthopedic issues. Pilates is also incredible pre-and postpartum to strengthen abdominal muscles wrecked by pregnancy – a uniquely female condition! Risk of injury during Pilates is low and there is such a wide range of fitness levels it can accommodate.
I have an arsenal of private and group Pilates trainers in my pocket I’d LOVE to share with you; drop me a line!