Monday’s are devoted to women and training, and this is a guest post from Gina Melnik, one of the women who helps run the New England Women of Strength (N.E.W.S.)
New England Women of Strength (N.E.W.S.) is a community of female strongman athletes. N.E.W.S. provides its members an opportunity to share passion for the sport of strongman and build a pathway to help other strong women become Strongwomen. As a relatively new organization, one of our first major activities was holding a workshop to help introduce women to the sport of strongman.
The idea came about because many of us in N.E.W.S. kept finding women that were excited by the idea of heavy lifting and trying strongman, but needed some support and the right environment to help them feel comfortable exploring the sport. We knew based on our own collective experiences that a learning environment constructed and run by strongwoman athletes would be approachable and empowering for novice female lifters beyond anything that other strongman or strength training resources could provide. We started talking about the possibility of a strongman workshop for beginners and there was immediate excitement from prospective workshop takers. Three of N.E.W.S.’s more experienced strongman competitors – Gina Cravedi, Kim Berg and me (Gina Melnik) — decided to make it happen and formed a coaching team for the workshop.
The workshop was geared toward women that were already strength training, but new to strongman. The coaching team’s goal was to lay out a basic foundation for learning the sport – the kind that we wished we had when we were beginning. After a seminar-style discussion, we moved on to events. As anyone familiar with strongman knows, contest events are constantly changing. There was no way to cover all the possible events in strongman; we wanted to give the participants the experience of an event-based training day and provide some initial instruction. The coaching team considered a range of factors and ended up selecting Viking press, tire flipping, car deadlifting (with the apparatus weighted with heavy tires), and farmer’s walks. It was fun to watch the participants rally around supporting each and pushing through on hard sets. We then wrapped up the day with more discussion and Q&A. This second discussion session was one of my favorite parts of the workshop because everyone’s initial nerves had dissipated and it really felt like what N.E.W.S. is — a community of athletes exploring their potential together.
The women that attended were wonderful to work with — they showed up enthusiastic, and ready and willing to step out of their comfort zones. I know that some of them had hesitations about being ready to step up into something like this and it was fun for our coaching team to show them that they were. As one of my coaching mentors is fond of saying, “ready is willing and willing is ready.”
Participants loved that this workshop was not just for women, but also taught by strongwoman athletes. All of us on the coaching team have full-time jobs outside the fitness industry showing that everyday women can do this. And because we vary in size and build, it helps illustrate that this sport can be accessible to anyone. In a number of ways, the participants could relate to us. Additionally, there is something about having experienced strong women present, modeling strength, and sharing their own accomplishment in the sport that is uniquely motivating to other female athletes. On the instructor side, our coaching team was able to reflect back on our own past experience as novice strongwomen and use that as a guide to provide the right atmosphere, tone and support. We could relate to them and where they’re at this stage of exploring the sport.
It was a wildly successful endeavor and I think all of us – both athlete participants and coaches — are still feeling energized and looking forward to what’s next.
You can learn more about N.E.W.S. through their Facebook page.
I think that one of the most important things that the N.E.W.S. instructors do is show that anyone can participate and compete in this sport. By setting the example AND providing an avenue for beginners, they make it accessible and fun. What do you think? Are there any other women lifting groups out there?