Here is my most recent blog post, originally written for & published on the Spartan Race Blog.
Not much longer than 100 years ago, tennis and riding a bicycle were two of the only physical activities thought to be acceptable exercise for a woman. Skirts worn above the ankle were considered shocking, and well into the 20th century a soft, curvy figure was viewed as a sign of prosperity and wealth. It was unheard of for a woman to engage in any sort of intense physical activities designed to build strength and power, and it became widely believed that women simply could not do the things that a man could do. We just were not physically capable.
Once fitness and exercise slowly but surely began to be viewed as acceptable for women, there remained a great divide as to the type of activities that were admissable, and a vast difference endured regarding the overall focus and goals that men and women were to maintain for themselves. Men trained for strength, men trained to win, men trained to be powerful. While women, on the other hand, were to workout so as to maintain their feminine figure and remain visually appealing to men. Muscles on women were viewed as too masculine, and the ideal goal was focused on staying thin over being fit, and keeping trim instead of being strong and healthy.
It wasn’t until the 21st century arrived that weight lifting to build overall strength began to slowly but surely become acceptable for women interesting in staying in shape. However centuries of being considered “the weaker sex” made the negative stereotypes regarding women who were strong. muscular and fit very tough to break through.
Initially an extremely male-oriented, macho, almost barbaric event, one which was focused on being the most challenging, hardcore, intense activity in existence meant to intimidate instead of empower, the sport has drastically evolved over the past few years, and with it so has its primary patrons. Today, many events see a greater percentage of female registrants, and this number continues to grow. OCR has empowered women, made us feel as though its acceptable to get dirty, it is beautiful to be physically strong, and it is completely normal to train in the same fashion that a man does.
Women today seek to be strong and fast, we are proud to show off our muscles without being called “manly”, we feel empowered when we “chick” male racers, and we unabashedly tackle difficult obstacles once viewed too intense for female athletes. We do not worry about broken nails, tangled hair, scrapes, or bruises. In fact, it is these things that we’ve come to embrace, and we take intense pride in the fact that we are Obstacle Racers. We aren’t afraid to be called “badass”, in fact, that’s a compliment!
, TyAnn Clark, and Margaret Schlachter. These women are fierce, strong, and unwilling to succumb to any stereotype which says that they shouldn’t be strong, fast, or powerful enough to compete in an race built to challenge even the most seasoned athlete.Women today admire the likes of Amelia Boone, Rose Wetzel-Sinnett, Jackie Rust, Kate Cramer
The evolution of the female athlete has made an incredible surge forward in the past few years, and I truly believe that this shift can be directly attributed to the sudden explosion in popularity of OCR. Strong Spartan women are now viewed as beautiful women, and we are proud to share our triumphs, struggles, heartbreaks, and accomplishments earned through the hard work and determination required by the Spartan course.
If you are a Woman of Spartan, you should be so incredibly proud of your health journey, and of your commitment to break through the stereotypes of the past to show the world just how absolutely amazing you are.