No Girls Allowed: A Psychosocial Examination of Women’s Relationship to Strength Training and the Weight Room

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No Girls Allowed: A Psychosocial Examination of Women’s Relationship to Strength Training and the Weight Room

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2017-05

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Introduction: Despite the many physiological and psychological benefits of strength training, only 24.7% of American women meet the ACSM recommendations of strength training two or more times per week. Because strength training most frequently occurs in gyms, it is important to consider how the gendered environment of the weight room may influence women’s participation in strength training. Drawing on feminist theory, the purpose of the present study was to examine the potential psychosocial predictors of using free weights and specific spaces within the gym. Methods: Surveys were sent to a random sample of women who had used a campus recreation center. Participants (n=1,135) completed online questionnaires examining several psychosocial and gym use variables. Results: As hypothesized, women who considered free weight use to be a more feminine activity used free weights more frequently than women who considered free weights to be masculine. In addition, women who exhibited thinner ideal physiques used cardio machines with more frequency than those with larger ideal physiques. In terms of gym space, women with lower gender role stress used high male spaces more frequently than women with higher gender role stress. Conclusions: Results suggest that not only might some women perceive strength training to be masculine, they may also avoid strength training because it occurs in predominantly masculine spaces. This study begins to shed light on the complex relationship between socially constructed ideologies of gender and bodies and women’s individual motivations to strength train.

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University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2017. Major: Kinesiology. Advisor: Beth Lewis. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 73 pages.

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Crane, Holly. (2017). No Girls Allowed: A Psychosocial Examination of Women’s Relationship to Strength Training and the Weight Room. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/190610.

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