by Christian Adrian Brown
September 25 marks the annual National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. Some might wonder why such a day is needed or necessary, and the answer is simple: women are generally not encouraged to participate in group sport or activity. Women’s soccer, while growing in audience interest, especially after this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, brings in a fraction of the viewership and revenue of its male counterpart.
Almost universally, young women are still guided into sympathetic disciplines instead of full-contact sports. Whereas for young men—as I once was—sport is simply a part of your rearing.
As a child and then youth I dabbled in swimming, lacrosse, soccer, hockey, and tennis before finally settling on athletics and weightlifting. While sociologists may argue back and forth that this is due to biological imperatives, social constructs, or hierarchal programming, I think I took to sport because there was an aspect to discipline and/or group activity that I found enlightening and wholesome.
And that’s not a lesson exclusive to the male identity, nor should it be. Which is why events like the National Women’s Health and Fitness Day are so important: to provide women with the same choice and arena for healthy competition with their own bodies and against others.
More important, though, is keeping those doors and opportunities open once the day has come and gone.
What are your goals beyond Women’s National Fitness Day?
And this isn’t a question you should only ask yourself if you identify as female. This is a question that supersedes identity.
How will you encourage your mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends to take up the mantle of health and wellness? Well, in my opinion, the easiest way to influence others has been, and will continue to be, leading by example. We are highly adaptive creatures who respond and change to social cues and suggestions.
Therefore, if you want a nation of Wonder Women (the reboot, not the cringey seventies version), then be that Wonder Woman—or Wonder Man, or Wonder Folk—and help train a nation of warriors through your role-modeling.
Push women into activity. I was pushed into sports, many of which I didn’t like, although via a process of elimination I soon learned what I did fancy. Show women that they are strong. Show them that weightlifting can be more than five-pound curls and Jane Fonda butterfly thigh contractions.
I often go through this particular roadblock in my work as a lifestyle coach: the self-perception that women should lift very light weights because they are slighter and frailer and don’t want to bulk up. This is a gross misinterpretation of how the body works, since a woman won’t turn into a muscle god without a tremendous amount of calories and most likely hormonal injections.
A woman can be strong, can lift strong, can treat her body in many ways no different to a man’s—to a human’s—and that is the capacity and goal to which we should have women achieve.
Perhaps one day we’ll just be celebrating National Health and Fitness Day—nonbinary and without qualification. But we’re not there yet. Until we are, show your support and your leadership and encourage the women in your life to conquer life’s obstacles with the sheer determination of their bodies and wills.
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST
Body, Mind and Quill
Quadragenarian fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes and speaks about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media.