Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Tire and a Sledgehammer

Yesterday was a chilly 42 degrees with 20-25 mph winds. We had hoped to go hiking, but due to the weather decided to forgo long periods of time outdoors. I wanted to get a workout in though, and since I had done a tempo run on Friday, I wanted to give my joints a break from running.

After an amazing afternoon nap, I headed to the gym at about 5:30 pm. I started with a few gentle laps around the track, and then some arm/shoulders/chest free weight-lifting. I caught about 15 minutes of Braveheart while walking on the treadmill (5% incline for 1 mile).

That's when I got a little crazy.  When I was walking around the track, I noticed someone using a sledgehammer on a big tire downstairs. I instantly wanted to try it, but felt a little self-conscious, in part because I'm female. I don't know if this is generally true, but I don't typically see females do anything other than cardio and free weights at the gym, myself typically included.
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Now I have no doubt that we women can do stuff like sledgehammering a tire, it's just that it for whatever we reason we (the collective, general 'we') don't typically choose to do so. Maybe it's stereotype, maybe it's worry we'll get big bulging muscles (which I trust most people reading this know is very unlikely given our hormone make-up), or maybe it's fear of looking dumb. I'm not sure what it is.

I think for me personally, though, it is a fear of being ridiculed for being "un-feminine".  Now, I am a through-and-through characteristic tomboy. I spent much of my childhood building forts, shooting hoops, playing catch, mowing lawns, and otherwise finding ways to get muddy. It's who I am. One of the reasons that I became a manufacturing engineer is because I love to get my hands dirty. It's not a persona I'm trying to create--it's just the way I was made.

Now I enjoy a good pedicure from time to time (when my mom pays!), and I get my hair done regularly. I enjoy many aspects of being female. It's fun to get "gussied up" to go out to dinner, and it makes me feel awesome when my husband tells me I'm beautiful.

But there's also nothing like the feeling of being able to move a 700 lb mold at work by myself (with the assistance of some key equipment!). Feeling capable feels...awesome. So yesterday, I threw my fear of the perception of strangers to the wind, and picked up the sledgehammer. OK, first off, let me tell you sledgehammers are a lot heavier than they look! I struggled a bit to get a good handle on it, but eventually got the hang of it.

I got a couple of strange looks, but it didn't matter. That tire got a pretty decent whalloping, and I felt pretty darn good about it.


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