Being the Token Girl in the Weight Room

by Sarah Ng
Also Featured on KCBS
12.30.18
Photo: John Arano on Unsplash
12.30.18

This year, I became a weightlifter. Sure, it made me stronger. But walking into a gym full of men also pushed me to strengthen my confidence.

Every year, I learn a new skill that’s outside of my comfort zone. It started with ukulele, then skateboarding, even beatboxing.

This past summer, I set my mind on weightlifting. I spent an hour each day working out. Soon, I went from barely completing a push-up to doing several pull-ups. 

Then, one day, I went to the gym with classmates. It didn’t surprise me that I was the only girl there. The room was dominated by shouting and weights clanking on metal racks. I felt fragile. 

I felt like the odd girl out in this hypermasculine atmosphere. I wondered if I should have instead focused on being lean—like every female model I see. 

As I was lifting dumbells, one of my classmates shouted: “Woah, Sarah is actually strong.”

Going to the gym is supposed to be straightforward–something anyone could benefit from. But it isn’t the same for many girls. Unlike the men there, I had to push away female expectations with every weight I lifted.


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