In the early class last week, a discussion ensued that I found somewhat troubling at the time but grew even more disturbed by as the day went on. The impetus was our word for the day: Sturdy.
The prevailing sentiment was that it was not at all a complimentary word, especially if used to describe a woman. Now, I know this was a lighthearted, not very well-thought out conversation early in the morning, so I let it roll, even though I was slightly bugged. But as the day wore on I got more fired up, so here we are.
"What’s the problem?" you might ask. Well, it comes down to defining expectations of women and what they should and shouldn't be. In my estimation, as a human being, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, religious affiliations, taste in fashion or favorite color, one thing you should strive to be is sturdy. If you're not striving to be sturdy, i.e. strong, resilient, capable, useful, you are allowing yourself to disgracefully & ungracefully slide into decrepitude.
If that’s the case, shame on you. If your desire to be thin or stay below a certain number on the scale is what's keeping you from embracing sturdy, double shame on you. You are now officially choosing to be a burden on society and will only become more burdensome as you become more decrepit. Harsh? Maybe. But true, nonetheless.
And, if you are in MY gym and think being sturdy is a bad thing, shame on me. I have failed you. I want you all to be sturdy AF so that you can live long, useful, productive, meaningful and happy lives. And not need a wheelchair. Or insulin. Or a nursing home...EVER! Especially all of my women athletes. We already live longer than men. Let's make sure we can have some fun during those extra years.
So, remember this: sturdy = fit = super-healthy = anti-decrepit.
As CrossFit founder Greg Glassman points out in the CrossFit Journal:
“The decrepitude monster starts coming after you after the age of 30, and you can push it back or let it take you over,” Glassman explains. “You need to fight decrepitude, not surrender to it.”
Still not convinced? Then read the story of Brooke Fergon, who, having trained CrossFit for a few months, jumped into 40-degree water at Rocky Mountain National Park’s North St. Vrain Creek and fought the current to save her 2-year-old son.
“Fergon continued to hold her son with one arm and hugged the log with the other, pulling the two of them along the length of the lifesaving implement [a log].”
Pretty sturdy, huh? Not sturdy means standing on the banks, helpless, yelling for a rescuer, watching your little boy in the currents or jumping in and drowning yourself. No thanks.
So where does the idea that being sturdy is a negative for women come from? Popular culture? Men? Both? Is this the same type of thinking that brings us eating disorders, osteoporosis and rape culture? Coach Glassman thinks so. Watch below (NSFW).
I’m very happy & proud to be a sturdy woman. In fact, I come from a long line of sturdy women. We work hard, take care of ourselves and others and live long and productive lives. I can defend myself against attack. I can pick up or drag to safety the less sturdy of you who succumb to some outside force that you weren't prepared to deal with like, you know, a strong breeze or an angry kitten or a herd of vicious cows. I can trip and catch myself or, if I do fall down, I know that I am unlikely to break an arm, leg, hip or even a nail. I can put my luggage in the overhead bin, and I’ll help you with yours if you ask nicely.
So when someone calls you sturdy. Say thank you and be proud of your strength, resilience and usefulness. It might just save your life. Check out the video: