For many, entering a gym can feel intimidating or overwhelming — often times, even more so for women. But weight training is increasingly important for all of us as we age, so we can live longer, more mobile, happier, and healthier lives. Bellingham Training & Tennis Club (BTTC) has created welcoming, informative, fun clinics to help ease women into feeling comfortable — and empowered — about weight training.
“We wanted to develop a program so women feel confident in what they’re doing,” says BTTC founder and co-owner Robin Robertson, “and that they’re doing the right thing for their body.”
Bellingham Training & Tennis Club has launched a progressive 4-week weight training clinic aimed at women, as well as a level 2 for those excited to build on what they’ve learned. Visit BTTC’s website to see when the next clinic begins.
What To Expect
On a recent visit to BTTC, on the last day of a level 1 clinic, 10 women worked independently around the bright, airy gym, putting to use all they’d learned from instructor Julie Taylor in the previous weeks.
Julie has been a trainer for more than eight years. Originally from Sydney, Australia, she lived in Denver for 11 years before recently relocating to Bellingham with her partner, Sarah, and son, Harry.
She’s quickly become a class participant favorite.
“Julie’s great — she really makes a difference,” says participant Margaret Figeroid.
“Quite a few of these women have never picked up a dumbbell,” Julie says. “I’ve been showing them all the different movements using all the different weights — dumbbells, kettlebells, TRX, and more.”
A goal of the clinic is for participants to be able to confidently join any class — or use free weights and bands at home — and know how to use the equipment while also using proper form.
“The first class, we don’t even pick up a dumbbell,” says Julie. “I just look at their form of doing things like squats and lunges. We practice those.” Once she sees that the form is good, she gives them a light dumbbell. With proper instruction, progress comes quickly.
Importance of Strength Training As We Age
Most women are well aware of the increased importance of bone health as we age. Or, as Robin so concisely puts it: “You don’t want to end up being a frail bird.”
What many don’t realize is the integral connection between weight training and strong bones.
“Your skeleton wouldn’t be able to do anything without muscles acting as pulleys on each joint,” Robin explains. “The stronger the pulleys are, the more stable every joint will be.”
In other words, when the muscle pulls on a bone to make it move, the bone is pulling back — and that makes your bones stronger. The stronger the muscle is, the stronger your bones will be.
Robin shares an anecdote about her mother who fell several times in her 90s but, fortunately, never broke a bone. Thanks to years of walking the golf course, weight training, and water aerobics, she was able to avoid the all-too-common occurrence of a broken hip because she had strong bones.
Positive Feedback From Clinic Participants
Participants chat amiably with Julie and each other as they file out of their final session of the most recent 4-week clinic. Each of the 10 women thank Julie for the experience and reiterate how much they learned and how confident they feel to continue on.
“I’m really looking forward to class 2,” says Margaret Figeroid.
“I wouldn’t normally pick up weights; I wouldn’t know what to do,” says Maranda Maberry. “But now? I want to do level 2. It was fantastic! Just getting familiar with the weights and being in a group setting. Julie made it really fun.”
For Stacey Nordtvedt, weight training wasn’t completely new, but she still gained important skills — and insight. “When I started, I was having some shoulder issues, and they’re so much better now,” she says. “Adding the strength is actually helping — it’s feeling a lot better.” She also plans to continue with the level 2 clinic.
For Robin and Julie and everyone on the BTTC team, this is exactly the type of feedback they hoped for when they launched the weight training for women clinic.
“It’s so surprising how fast you can improve with weight training,” Robin says. “In the beginning, you might be a little hesitant: ‘Oh, five pounds is enough.’ And then you’re like, ‘I can do 20 pounds!’ It goes fast.”
“I just want people to not feel intimidated,” she continues. “They will be able to do it — they just need to try.”
As the gym empties and Julie puts things back in order, she shares the inspiring story of an 87-year-old woman from one of her classes earlier that day.
“She was holding planks, doing burpees, jumping jacks, push-ups. Folks can do everything you throw at them; they just come every day and keep themselves moving. It’s use-it-or-lose-it and she’s a prime example of that. This woman is my hero. Really amazing things happen in this gym.”
Level 1: Beginner Clinic takes place Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Level 2: Intermediate Clinic takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Please visit www.BTTCfit.com for more information on future clinics and to register.
Featured photo courtesy Bellingham Training & Tennis Club