Body images of women have changed with fluctuating trends over the years, and amongst the media images and fashions of the day, there are real women considering what they want too. So what do women actually want when it comes to their fitness and their bodies? Is it all about being slim and trim, or more about being toned and improving function? What motivates women to keep fit today?
Exercise Vs Women?
In 1912 Harpers & Bazaar magazine asked women: 'Are Athletics a Menace to Motherhood?' Over the years, this idea of exercise potentially working against women's best interest has been evident, with question marks over fertility and fitness. However, ironically, studies continue to support the reality that for expectant mothers, exercise can be a real benefit, not to mention for new mothers.
Perspiring not sweating!
Certainly the idea of sweating it out in a full-on high intensity interval training workout might have been deemed a little unbecoming in years gone by. Some light exercise to stay trim and healthy would no doubt have been acceptable. This idea of strong, confident women challenging their bodies and transforming their minds would have seen somewhat revolutionary in the not so distant past.
Fitness in the 30s-70s
While the ideal image of a woman in the 30s might have been strength, certainly in the US where women were needed to work in industry, this soon gave way to images of thin waistlines as swimwear and sportswear was modelled by the young and beautiful of the time. By the 50s Marilyn Monroe was the ultimate female image in the media, but this soon gave way to the a more waif-life physique to signify beauty. The message seemed to be that as long as you were thin you were beautiful, no matter how unhealthy you were.
Fitness in the 80s-new millennium
The 1980s fashions allowed for a little more baggage and the media image was of a more independent woman. By the 90s, cosmetic surgery was taking hold and pinups were pouting and pneumatic. There was a greater focus on fitness and feeling free and energetic during this time though with lycra taking hold, quite literally, and the birth of many aerobics and dance classes for women. The new millennium brought an altogether different type of female image that of the tough, no-nonsense action heroine who is not simply slim but has killer abs and taut glutes that help her spring into dynamic combat mode.
With the likes of Madonna, JLo, Gwen Stefani and Michelle Rodriguez kicking butt with killer bodies, it seems that women don't want to settle for being slim but to have definition and power too. They want to be toned and strong; capable and confident. They want to be independent, in control and be able to meet a challenge head on. They are not looking to rely on a strong man but depend on their own intrinsic worth and strength.
Female fitness friends
Regardless of media stereotypes and a booming diet industry, many women today are joining proactive fitness communities where they can build their fitness levels and create a healthier body, mind and inner self. They can also take advantage of the camaraderie and support that other women offer. With greater understanding of fitness and the impact on women, there are some amazing workouts and training techniques just waiting to be discovered by women of all ages and fitness abilities. What real women really want is to be themselves and to realize this they need a customized fitness plan that is made to measure for women.