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May 25, 2012 06:03 PM

Women and Weights

Sioux Falls, SD

It used to be that weight rooms and barbells were “guy stuff,” but stop by a local gym these days and you're likely to see more women incorporating weights into their workout routines.

For years, women avoided weights, afraid they'd bulk up and not look feminine, but more women are now realizing strength training's benefits.

A class at the Sanford Wellness Center focuses on improving muscle strength and out of the nearly two dozen people in the class, only two of them are men.

Weight lifter Hope Happeny-Woodruff says that's much different than when she first started picking up weights six years ago.

"From when I first started, the classes are a lot bigger, and I've watched women increase their weights," Happeny-Woodruff said.

Along with taking part in the class, Happeny-Woodruff also is on a four-week weight-lifting schedule.

"Being a business owner and having kids, it's good to fell strong,"  Happeny-Woodruff said.

But, can you lift weights and still look feminine? Sanford Exercise Specialist Jamie Conroy says that shouldn't be a problem.

"Everybody was afraid they were going to bulk up like men, which that's not in our body composition or makeup. We're not going to bulk up like that," Conroy said.

Conroy adds that women who lift weights will lift their metabolism rate, while also lowering their risk for osteoporosis. They'll also have a sleeker physique.

"When women just do 20 to 40 minutes of their typical cardio routine, they're not going to notice much of a change. When you throw in muscular strength, you're going to actually notice change in your body," Conroy said.

Because of those benefits, Happeny-Woodruff expects to see even more strength in the number of women on the weightlifting floor.

"I feel like a stronger person every day. It helps me be more confident and makes me feel good. It makes me feel strong," Happeny-Woodruff said.

If you'd like to start working weights into your workout routine, Conroy says you should start with one to two days a week and work up to two to three days a week.

You should also not lift weights on consecutive days because it takes 48 hours for your muscles to recover.

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