More women into weight training |

More women into weight training

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Personal Trainer Cassandra Chandler works out Monday at Push Fitness.

South Shore real estate agent Cheryl Murakami pushes a lot more than homes into escrow.

She’s found the health benefits and genuine satisfaction of lifting weights, marking a cultural shift from women’s earlier concerns of bulking up too much or being intimidated by hard bodies with years of weight training under their belts.

“I want this,” she said, pointing to a line across her upper arm while working out Monday with personal trainer Cassandra Chandler of Push Fitness. Murakami, who’s been coming regularly since February, referred to the definition weight lifters get on their bodies.

It’s apparently a day and age for women in the world of weight training, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The federal agency conducted a study that revealed women are pumping more iron, with nearly 1 in 5 doing twice-a-week workouts. It was published last week in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The study – which included data from interviews with tens of thousands of U.S. adults – found 3 percent more women have worked out that often in the last six years.

Chandler has seen a surge in the number of women lifting weights, and they come in as old as age 89.

“She tells me: ‘Don’t go soft on me,'” Chandler said, echoing her elderly client’s request.

Another woman has told her the workouts have helped her sex drive – a step up from earlier gripes from the client’s husband that she’s not around.

“She said: ‘Now, my husband thanks me every day,'” Chandler said.

Chandler said men have evolved in viewing their partners’ quests for muscles and tone differently. They like the look, and they like the sexual prowess.

Women are reaping the benefits of their male counterparts – endorphin highs and strong bones, especially with an increased prevalence of osteoporosis.

Murakami said she doesn’t like the weight gain, but Chandler warns her clients about muscle weighing more than fat. She said how they feel in their clothes matters most.

Chandler takes the first-time weight lifters through a rotation of exercises, beginning with machines that work the chest, back, arms, shoulders and legs. She begins with an easy weight such as 30 pounds on the leg press. She’ll also bring out the cardio ball.

“This is why women are afraid to go heavy,” she said while on a machine that works the biceps. She discounted the assumption because “women just don’t have those kinds of hormones.”

Chase Jaggard, a 20-year veteran of the activity, said she lifts weights five times a week because she “gets beats up at work” as a casino cocktail waitress. The South Shore woman gravitates toward the assisted dip chin to work on the shoulders and back muscles.

“I enjoy it. It gives me a mental release,” she said.

The U.S. government has set a public health goal that, by 2010, at least 30 percent of American adults should be doing strength training at least twice a week. Now 21.5 percent of men do and 17.5 percent women.

The tendency coincides with the number of female members at Push, which tops 70 percent of the membership. Sierra Athletic Club also reported more women than men have joined the gym. Personal trainer Eufay Wood scheduled 10 women in his book just on Monday.

“Women have more stress. They’re the heads of households. They run companies. They’ll either hit the road running or hit the weights,” Wood said.

Kahle Community Center personal trainer Melissa Zeffer estimated a 3-to-1 ratio of women to men now lifting weights at the Stateline gym.

“There’s definitely a trend. First women were doing cardio to lose weight. But in the last seven years, the research shows we lose muscle past 30 (years),” she said.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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