A Visit to the Archives: "That's What She Said!": The Trials & Tribulations of being a Girly Bro

As promised, here is our first visit to the BroSesh Sunday's archives...

This was one of the favourite blogs I've written, not just because of how close I felt to the topic, but because of the response I received from fellow athletes, friends and complete strangers!

I hope you guys enjoy reading it (for the first OR second time!) as much as I loved writing it!

"That's What She Said!": The Trials & Tribulations of being a Girly Bro

For a while now, I have thought about writing a post on the challenges faced as a female CrossFitter and coach. However, after searching the internet, I saw that many of my fellow female CrossFitters have covered this topic from all sides of the spectrum so heartfelt, so eloquently, so bang-on-the-money that in all reality my two cents would only add just that. Two Cents.

And what does two cents buy you? Nothing.

The desire to write something didn’t fade, so I kept thinking about it, trying to pin down exactly what I wanted to get across to our readers. Then a revelation hit me….

Here is my list of The Top 10 Trials & Tribulations of being a Female CrossFitter, Coach and all around Girly Bro:

10. Protein shakers are just too tall to fit into a handbag
9. The once unspeakable, but now much publicized issue, you might pee a little when you do double unders.
8. Coupled with the ‘Is that sweat or did I pee myself’ post-WOD worry. Before CrossFit, did you know you could actually sweat there??
7. Regardless of how much top coat you use, your nail varnish will never remain chip-free for longer than 2 days. Hell, I’m lucky if my nail varnish lasts more than 20 minutes.
6. Injuries that make complete sense in the box, but don’t translate in the ‘real world’. For example, ripped hands and over-developed callouses, shin scrapes and gashes which stand out in your best friend’s wedding photos, jump rope whip lashes, and clean bruises that look like hickies. Let’s be honest. They don’t actually look like hickies, but everyone will inevitably ask, ‘OH EMM GEE is that a hicky?!’.

5. Finding the appropriate thickness of workout bottoms which are both not too hot for the real sweaty WODs, but also not so thin that the athletes working behind you get a free show when you deadlift.
4. Finding the right headband for double unders, handstand push ups, box jumps, etc which stays put without cutting off circulation.
3. Getting into and/or out of a top from Zara in the fitting room. Seriously, who has arms that skinny?!
2. Similarly, trying on a pair of skinny jeans. You do the ‘jump & pull’ manoeuvre in a teensy space which is a WOD in itself, and once you finally get it over your double under calves and squatting thighs, you button it up to realise it’s too big to fit around your waist. Bring on the effort to get the jeans off…
1. Taking off a sports bra after a heavy session. There’s nothing more embarrassing then having your partner/Mister/flatmate/friend come home to find you flailing about with your arms in the air, screaming for help as you’re being held hostage by your sports bra which has morphed into an evil boa constrictor and wrapped itself around your shoulders. Not that that’s ever happened to me, of course…

One thing that these items have in common is that they are all superficial. In the grand scheme of things, they are annoying, but they don’t really matter and, although we face these every day, we always manage to soldier through.

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t bigger issues around and that these are the only problems faced by female CrossFitters or athletes in general. Quite the contrary, I’m all too aware of the challenges female athletes take on throughout their development, and the criticism they face outside of the box from both men and women who don’t think that women should have muscular figures, or that they should train or lift. Not to mention the criticism female athletes face IN the box. Particularly the competitive females, who, in response to their no-holds-barred, ambitious approach to their training, get labeled as bitchy, catty or overly aggressive.

Although these issues are definitely present, I won’t be getting into them here firstly because, as I mentioned before, this has been addressed in numerous blogs better than I could ever write it down. And second, because of my revelation: The Point of this Blog (yes, it does actually have a point…)

I was training with my good friend Shirls last week. Shirls is strong beyond words and she never ceases to amaze me with her quality of movement.

BTW, her spirit animal is a dolphin

We were doing some gymnastics work and during a rest she mentioned that once someone asked her if she felt less feminine when she trained.

That’s when my eureka moment hit. I had never asked myself that question… Do I feel less feminine when I lift? Or maybe even more masculine? What about when I’m training with only girls? Does this make the session girlified? What about my BroSesh Sundays, when it’s typically just me and a host of big, burly boys? Am I more of a tomboy then? The more I thought about it, the more I realised that the answer to both of these questions was a resounding No.

This is why I’m not writing a post about the difficulties of training or coaching as a female. When I train, I’m not a feminist fighting against decades of oppression, nor am I a delicate flower. I don’t go in to the box all ‘big swinging dick’ trying to be one of the guys. Nor do I care (inside or outside of the box) about other people’s opinions of what I should and shouldn’t do, or how I should or shouldn’t look. When I train, I don’t train to get bigger guns, I don’t train to get an ass that looks great in my new jeans.

I’m not a girly girl, I’m not a tomboy. I’m an athlete. I’m there to pick up weights and put them down, hoist myself over a bar or on top of rings and run, jump and row as fast as I can. I don’t feel less feminine, or more masculine. I feel like me. Like Maria ‘Trapasaurus Rex’ Turner. Who dances during WODs, loves to bench and deadlift, lives for pull-ups and actually quite enjoys burpees, but definitely not box jumps.

Who out there feels the same?