Strong is the New Skinny
January 31, 2011 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Team Gorilla is "a celebration of the functional athletic physique, and the effort needed to attain it." Because strong is the new skinny.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko (51 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whatever is hardest to attain in the name of beauty, that's the new _________



I'm 100% for people getting in great shape, realizing how it can help their mental state. I'd also encourage people who go to the gym to find ways to apply the strength they've earned in way, way way, funner things to do, than simply throwing weights around and competing in... throwing weights around.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:09 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is that Team Gorilla blog just pictures of women all the way down?
posted by box at 1:15 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


1983 called, they want their slogans back.
posted by parmanparman at 1:17 PM on January 31, 2011


I wish someone had told me years ago that lifting weights is fun. I had NO IDEA and I thought hours on the elliptical would make me skinny. (Which you know, highly unlikely though I could never manage to find out).
It still makes me sad to hear the myth that weightlifting makes you look manly and bulky because I may have 99 problems, but looking like a dude ain't one.

I will never be rail thin but thanks to strength training, I get further from my former self every day.
posted by pointystick at 1:17 PM on January 31, 2011 [11 favorites]


Because strong is the new skinny.

Because body dysmorphia is the new body dysmorphia.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:19 PM on January 31, 2011 [33 favorites]


Being way extra-stronger than you actually, functionally need to be, mainly for cosmetic reasons, is not what I'd call "healthy."
posted by hermitosis at 1:20 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Do you want a body like the ladies that Team Gorilla celebrates? Put down the pink dumbbells, get off the elliptical, and go lift some heavy shit and go for a run or a row or a swim or something. Over time lift heavier shit. Repeat."

Powerful women, for sure.
posted by longsleeves at 1:23 PM on January 31, 2011


I'm not sure how you can be stronger than you functionally need to be, as long as you're training to be functionally strong.

There nothing wrong with constantly becoming better at pretty much everything.

Unless you're talking about bodybuilding? Yeah, fuck that shit.
posted by Telf at 1:23 PM on January 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


Their t-shirts suck. I can understand how cool it is to form a circle of people to lift weights with. I for one would love to find that kind of community, because I could never do a real squat and I don't ever seem to last in lifting. A female (competitive?) weightlifting team ought to be using a real graphic designer. I was glad to see so much swearing but there could some better slogans such as:

Raw is breast milk (in blocky industrial lettering)

I eat curses and weigh before breakfast (cursive lettering, would be a great greeting card)
posted by parmanparman at 1:27 PM on January 31, 2011


"The Intersexts of Linda Hamilton's Arms"

"Madonna's Biceps Through The Years"
posted by Joe Beese at 1:27 PM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love how this is the first comment on the facebook link:

"sup ladies? i think its cool tht u girls like to work out. fit girls look real good but in my opinion its not attractive when you have huge-bulky-bodybuilding muscles like bigger than a man's."

Every gym's gotta have this guy. It's like a law that your weight lifting as a woman needs a strange male to chime in that you need to be careful so you don't get shoulders like a man/a full six pack/whatever gender marker he values, as if it were any of his business or actually easy.
posted by Phalene at 1:27 PM on January 31, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't have problems with valuing strength training over using some flavor of cardio machine, but the phrase "strong is the new skinny" is a bit troublesome. Many people that get into strength training don't seem to know what level to be comfortable with. What happens, at least in my amateurish observation, is a kind of reverse anorexia. The image the strength trainer sees in the mirror is just too skinny, and needs to be bulkier or able to push more weight even though by most external standards they are already muscular or beefy looking. It's hard to divorce vanity from strength training, but it needs to be in order to not make people insufferable.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2011


Sometimes, I wish that men who prefer women with a certain body type would just quietly prefer women with that body type, rather than trying to, like, evangelize and recruit and shit.
posted by box at 1:29 PM on January 31, 2011 [23 favorites]


I am all for gaining strength. I am all for women lifting heavy weights instead of uselessly Tracy Andersoning away on pink two-pound dumbbells. I am all for moving away from "skinny" as a physical ideal.

But there's something kinda icky about "celebrating the functional physique." Can't we work out for working out's sake? Is Team Gorilla an actual team or just another voyeuristic chicky blog with different standards of attractiveness?

And I really don't see what a closeup of large breasts says about either strength or skinniness.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:29 PM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh, and here is what functional strength looks like. [SPOILER: it depends on the function]
posted by Joe Beese at 1:31 PM on January 31, 2011 [36 favorites]


"Being way extra-stronger than you actually, functionally need to be, mainly for cosmetic reasons, is not what I'd call "healthy.""

So being physically fitter than you probably need to be for survival is unhealthy? The fact that I can pick up a refrigerator because I go to the gym 4-5 days a week, when strictly speaking I will (hopefully) probably never have any good reason to do so is a bad thing?

I really don't understand this grawwr attitude that seems to pop up every time there is a post on a the blue about weight lifting. When done properly it is a fundamentally healthy activity that will lead to a better quality of life for longer by those who follow through with it. If there is a side benefit (in my case) that I lost a bunch of weight, gained a lot of muscle, and look way way better I think I can manage that and I do not think that merits snarky comments.
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:31 PM on January 31, 2011 [16 favorites]


Yes, ladies, no matter what you choose to do with your own body, it is meaningless until some man fetishizes it! HOORAY!

I lift weights so I can maintain my bone mass and move heavy objects in real life, not because some guy thinks it's hot.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:32 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, strong is not necessarily "the new skinny." The strongest woman in the world.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:35 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. The constant physique shots on Crossfit's site are the things I like the least about it (well, maybe aside from the rampant militarist current running through so much of it). So collecting them in one place is just irritating to me. I don't really get this.

Also, for some reason, kipping muscle-ups piss me off. I can't say why, but they irritate me in a way that kipping pull-ups do not.

I'm 100% for people getting in great shape, realizing how it can help their mental state. I'd also encourage people who go to the gym to find ways to apply the strength they've earned in way, way way, funner things to do, than simply throwing weights around and competing in... throwing weights around.

How do you know what is the "funnest" thing for someone to be doing? That's pretty subjective isn't it?

Being way extra-stronger than you actually, functionally need to be, mainly for cosmetic reasons, is not what I'd call "healthy."

All of my above criticisms aside hermitosis, I'm pretty sure that's the opposite of what is going on here.

It's hard to divorce vanity from strength training, but it needs to be in order to not make people insufferable.

Most people who get into strength training don't get to this point. Actually, it's pretty hard for most people to end up looking the way you're describing. What you are seeing is the 5% of people who take it to the extreme.
posted by dubitable at 1:38 PM on January 31, 2011


> Also, for some reason, kipping muscle-ups piss me off. I can't say why, but they irritate me in a way that kipping pull-ups do not.

Heh. I internalized the notion that kipping is only allowed if you're in a life threatening situation like hanging from a building or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:40 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


"sup ladies? i think its cool tht u girls like to work out. fit girls look real good but in my opinion its not attractive when you have huge-bulky-bodybuilding muscles like bigger than a man's."

You're in luck, ladies. He's single!
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 1:42 PM on January 31, 2011


A friend is on the borderline of pro/am bodybuilding. The crazy diet shit that she puts herself through is decidedly NOT HOT. Her body is intimidatingly bulked, and she's well into her 40s. Didn't start doing it until after 40.

As a data point, getting strong made me skinny. But I don't lift weights; I haul my own body weight around on aerial apparatus 3-5 days a week. As a result, I can outlift, armwrestle and do more pull-ups than most dudes I know. But I don't look like it, because I've lost over 20 lbs while gaining a ton of muscle. So, for me strong is indeed the new skinny.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 1:55 PM on January 31, 2011


I enjoy lifting weights and enjoy it alone. The competition with others aspect is one thing I dislike about the culture that sometimes surrounds weight training. Thankfully, it's easy to avoid.
posted by josher71 at 1:59 PM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Look, as a crossfitter (cultfitter) and fireman, I'm a little biased in that I've been a fan of the SINS movement since its inception.

I need to be stronger than the "typical" 135 pound girl; I lift heavy things and people and break shit for a living. I also need significant cardiovascular endurance not only for health reasons, but so that my brothers can rely on me NOT flaking out on an emergency scene. Also, working in a male-dominated profession, I need to be better at my job than many of my male colleagues, lest they use my sex to rationalize why I don't need to be working with them and I'm an A) pussy B) incompetent C) dirtbag D) you get the idea.

To me, the fact that there are women and men who appreciate strength and fitness and see ourselves as attractive and beautiful and aesthetically pleasing is a huge morale booster and motivator. I like going to my gym because I have fun during the workouts, I've met some amazing people and joined a great community, am better at my job, and have a more positive self-image. But I'd be lying if I claimed that I didn't care that it makes me more attractive.

I think that a forum that promotes a positive body image for females, support for maintaining health, and provides inclusion for males who like and are proud of women like myself is tremendous.

I'm not sure where the fetish aspect kicks in; we're just proud of our bodies, and crossfitters aren't the most modest individuals.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 2:08 PM on January 31, 2011 [13 favorites]


Depends on who you talk to. Body building is the new fat. Unhealthy, unattractive, non-functional. Just plain fit is the new and the old fit for men and women young and old.
posted by cmoj at 2:10 PM on January 31, 2011


I got pretty strong working at Whole Foods, where I ran up and down three flights of stairs multiple times per day (the elevator was slow and liable to getting stuck) and shifted 1500 pounds of stock from pallet to shelves three times a week, and wrangled cheese wheels that weighed 50-90 pounds (and were awkward as hell to get your arms around, if your arms weren't eight feet long) at least once a day. Strong, yeah; functional, hell yeah.

Now I do some lifting - weights and body - and it feels good to be getting stronger again. I understand intellectually that it's good for me, so I do it, and I like the way it makes me feel, so I do it, but it doesn't feel the same as my work-gained strength.
posted by rtha at 2:16 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that a forum that promotes a positive body image for females, support for maintaining health, and provides inclusion for males who like and are proud of women like myself is tremendous.

sara is disenchanted, I am with you 100%. But, I don't think this web site is that, and I don't even think the main CF site is that either. Or maybe it could be but there is also a ton of garbage that floats around there too. So, I don't know...does such a thing exist? Or am I offbase and do you sincerely feel like this and/or the main CF site are it?
posted by dubitable at 2:16 PM on January 31, 2011


Based on this and the Men's Health FPP from last Friday I think I am qualified to declare a trend. I expect to hear much more about this new realization that has now taken hold of the world fitness community.
posted by norm at 2:17 PM on January 31, 2011


Well, I think it's a step in the right direction. We don't need waifs, nor people who seem to have issues that are rooted in laziness to be role models for anyone.

Please don't think I'm saying that some folks who are naturally skinny/small or larger than average are all unhealthy; I'm simply arguing that "celebrity-starvation" and "fat acceptance" should be anything for anyone to aspire to.

I'm a big fan of Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf, and the rest of those those guys; I like Performance Menu, Whole 9, USAW and all that.

My box is not similar to the mainsite. We're not class-based; we're an open gym that focuses on Oly moreso than the "sexymetcon" and incorporates BJJ, yoga, kickboxing, swimming, running, spinning, and nutrition. We're all shapes and sizes; kids, teenagers, adults, and masters; and we place health and community above aesthetics.

I read the mainsite, but I take it with a grain of salt; our programming is varied and fun, in addition to producing results.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 2:30 PM on January 31, 2011


Poo, that "should" in the second paragraph should have a NOT after it.

Sorry guys.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 2:30 PM on January 31, 2011


I really don't understand this grawwr attitude that seems to pop up every time there is a post on a the blue about weight lifting.

Because there's a post on it every other week - this is Anatoly's second weightlifting post in like a week, I mean come on. Because - as much as a small subsection of the site loves weightlifting - it's not actually that interesting to the larger userbase. Because it's often wrapped up in some pretty sketchy body/self-image issues and gender politics (e.g. See this post).

I mean, I enjoy weightlifting, and I loooooove running. There are hundreds of fantastic running websites out there, but I'm just not gonna link to them on the blue on the assumption that everyone should be running, and/or thinking about running, and/or thinking about running in a certain way. And if I did, frankly, I would expect a spanking from mefites, especially if me and a small group of mefites runners were doing it regularly. I don't think it's such a mystery, really.
posted by smoke at 2:38 PM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


What do you expect Anatoly Pisarenko to post about?
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 2:48 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look, as a crossfitter (cultfitter) and fireman, I'm a little biased in that I've been a fan of the SINS movement since its inception. ...

I'm a big fan of Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf, and the rest of those those guys; I like Performance Menu, Whole 9, USAW and all that. My box is not similar to the mainsite. We're not class-based; we're an open gym that focuses on Oly moreso than the "sexymetcon" and incorporates BJJ, yoga, kickboxing, swimming, running, spinning, and nutrition.


I'm definitely learning new words today, so this thread has been worth reading just for that. And I didn't know we had any MeFite firemen, so that's cool, too.
posted by limeonaire at 3:06 PM on January 31, 2011


Haha, sorry. I tend to speak in acronyms and abbreviations a fair amount of the time.

There are a few of us firemen on here, but as I've mentioned before, the Blue is fairly leftist and intellectual for folks that tend to work in my field. I like it, but I tend to dance to my own damn marching band.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 3:16 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I appreciate that you're bringing this weightlifting stuff to Mefi, but couldn't you have waited until Andro Friday?
posted by indubitable at 3:21 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just not gonna link to them on the blue on the assumption that everyone should be running, and/or thinking about running, and/or thinking about running in a certain way. And if I did, frankly, I would expect a spanking from mefites, especially if me and a small group of mefites runners were doing it regularly. I don't think it's such a mystery, really.

STOP POSTING ABOUT THINGS I DON'T LIKE THIS IS NOT HOW METAFILTER WORKS UGH

Team Gorilla is unrepentant Crossfit cheesecake. The person who first started collecting and posting these pictures (in another forum, not this blog) first did so to collect evidence of women within the Crossfit community who were clearly dosing despite Crossfit's party-line that nobody in Crossfit uses. Then it became a celebration of the apparent need of women in Crossfit to remove all of their clothing and take pictures of themselves in order to work out. Then Crossfit women actually started sending this guy photos, misunderstanding the whole reason he posted them was to mock their attention-whore aproach to working out, and thus the blog was born. It's an interesting phenomena and by "interesting" I mean "hilarious."

------

Regarding the "being too strong is unhealthy" and "throwing weights around is not fun," I would like the posters to explain where they came up with those conclusions. It's those kinds of statements that I think should encourage more weightlifting FPPs, because clearly the "userbase" or equates "weight lifting" with "taking steroids and painting oneself orange and pushing nerds down the stairs," which is awfully sad.

Incidentally, this lack of knowledge about strength-and-conditioning and fitness in general explains the horrific quality of responses in the "health and fitness" section of AskMetafilter.
posted by schroedinger at 5:10 PM on January 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


Incidentally, this lack of knowledge about strength-and-conditioning and fitness in general explains the horrific quality of responses in the "health and fitness" section of AskMetafilter.

People who disagree with your particular fitness philosophy are not necessarily unknowledgeable. Many of them may be very knowledgeable. They just disagree with your particular fitness philosophy.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:35 PM on January 31, 2011


Thank you very much for the additional background about Team Gorilla, but I respectfully disagree with that last graph--I think that the sometimes-horrific quality of responses in the 'health and fitness' section has to do with two things.

One, which on the one hand is kind of a core assumption behind AskMe and on the other is something that colors responses in all the categories, is the notion that what worked for one person must therefore work for everyone--it's a nice rule of thumb, but it's seldom entirely true. And the other is that, the more one knows about a topic, the worse the AskMe responses to questions about that topic will appear (this is a corollary to my idea that the more one knows about a topic, and the closer one is to the subject, the more likely that said topic will seem like 'something that Metafilter doesn't do well').
posted by box at 5:39 PM on January 31, 2011


schroedinger, I was unaware of this history, as I've always followed PracticalPaleolithic.

I'm interested in the idea of people in the community (Crossfit as a whole) who are using. I mean, I'm sure there are, as there are many people who dose in most sports.

In fact, I've been asked by people outside of Crossfit if I use steroids. I don't; I never have. I do, however, slam protein, eat 80% clean, and take a nitrous supplement preworkout. I'm not overly-vascular, and I don't have a six-pack. I just look like a muscular girl. I'm completely natural, and I should hit a 300lb deadlift on Friday. This morning I did a heavy single back squat of 245, which is not close to my max, because I've allowed myself to focus more on my deadlifts lately. As I stated before, I'm 135 pounds, and I'm 5'4". If people want to become stronger, healthier, and look like they're strong and healthy, all they have to do is make the commitment and change diet.

It's really that simple.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 5:56 PM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


People who disagree with your particular fitness philosophy are not necessarily unknowledgeable. Many of them may be very knowledgeable. They just disagree with your particular fitness philosophy.

This has nothing to do with "my particular fitness philosophy" and everything to do with "What has been actually shown to work in exercise studies and the real world as practiced by coaches and exercise scientists" and "What is snake oil someone read on the cover of Men's Fitness and Self Magazine in line at the grocery store and thus felt qualified to give advice on devising proper health-and-fitness programs."

The amount of crap spouted about the magical "starvation mode" alone there is enough to make anyone with a less than spurious knowledge of the metabolism in athletic environments to throw their computer across the room.


And the other is that, the more one knows about a topic, the worse the AskMe responses to questions about that topic will appear (this is a corollary to my idea that the more one knows about a topic, and the closer one is to the subject, the more likely that said topic will seem like 'something that Metafilter doesn't do well').

This is very true. Part of the problem of the Health & Fitness section is twofold:
1) There is more misinformation about fitness in popular culture than perhaps any other subject
2) There is a wide-ranging assumption that the more heavily involved you are in strength-and-conditioning, the more likely you are to be a dumb, know-nothing jock, so those with a lack of experience in the area consider their advice to be as good, if not better, than those more familiar with the subject.



I'm interested in the idea of people in the community (Crossfit as a whole) who are using. I mean, I'm sure there are, as there are many people who dose in most sports.


Eh, this particular forum had a population of users who were experienced enough in lifting to see the small markers that develop from the use (or abuse) of lower-grade anabolics (Winstrol, etc). It was separate from the casual observer who assumes the presence of any musculature on the female body must equate with steroid use. The heavily competitive atmosphere of Crossfit as a whole--not implicating your particular affiliate in this, affiliates differ greatly in attitudes--implicitly encourages the use of PEDs in order achieve better performance and recovery in WODs.
posted by schroedinger at 6:02 PM on January 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Being way extra-stronger than you actually, functionally need to be, mainly for cosmetic reasons, is not what I'd call "healthy."

No one on mefi would ever put the word "extra-smarter" in this sentence, despite the fact that it fits quite well, yet this sentiment shows up almost every time someone mentions strength training. Why? Why must improvement in one area of our lives be noble, and the other base?

We're people, guys, not half-elves. We don't have to move points from INT on our character sheets if we want more STR.
posted by vorfeed at 6:16 PM on January 31, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm completely natural, and I should hit a 300lb deadlift on Friday. This morning I did a heavy single back squat of 245, which is not close to my max, because I've allowed myself to focus more on my deadlifts lately. As I stated before, I'm 135 pounds, and I'm 5'4".

Those are great lifts, sara. Sounds like you could teach a lot of affiliates a thing or two about effective programming.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 7:07 PM on January 31, 2011


We're people, guys, not half-elves. We don't have to move points from INT on our character sheets if we want more STR.

It definitely doesn't have to be a binary choice. We could talk about how there is an inverse relationship that develops and people usually have to make a choice at some point, but beyond that I think it's presented as one or the other quite a bit. Sometimes for simplicity, sometimes for other reasons. I think Crossfit has the right idea although some of the workouts I've seen are kind of wonky, but if it works - whatevs. People like it.
So everybody, say it with me: Strength AND Conditioning, Strength AND Conditioning.

2) There is a wide-ranging assumption that the more heavily involved you are in strength-and-conditioning, the more likely you are to be a dumb, know-nothing jock, so those with a lack of experience in the area consider their advice to be as good, if not better, than those more familiar with the subject.

Maybe this is an offline or Meta conversation, but I'm kinda curious who you think this applies to. This can be one of those things where everyone is all like "Bad advice, I knooooww!" I mean I could add one or two addendums to your list, but as far as I'm concerned advice is advice. People should you use it as a pointer and look the info up for themselves. When I give advice I try to give it to the person rather than try to tell them "here is the way, you are wrong if you don't do it this way". Which I think too many people tend glom to in online forums.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:37 PM on January 31, 2011


Hehee. No, I don't mean to say there is an inverse relationship between Int and Str. That would be funny though.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:24 PM on January 31, 2011


I just want to register my disgust at the idea that "Strong is the new skinny" is somehow empowering to women. Making anything the new skinny is a bad thing. Changing your body because it makes you feel happy and healthy is fine. Changing your body *just* to please other people, regardless of the particular shape you're pursuing, is neurotic and yucky.
posted by gingerest at 9:16 PM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder what peasant women in whatever era would think of this.

Intellectually extrapolating? "I wish I had that much food I could eat!"

For me, personally; all things equal, athletic women are much more attractive than underweight/skinny or overweight women where underweight is better than overweight. Outside of physical appearance; *ability* trumps everything

Small, taught, limber, tight little girl who can't deal with a night sleeping on a bed of fir boughs = not a long-term-potential.
posted by porpoise at 9:34 PM on January 31, 2011


Anatoly: thank you for the compliment. I wish I knew more about programming; I'm just very fortunate to belong to a very accomplished affiliate. I'm a midsized fish in a very large pond, as we have 300 members on the roll. Our owner tinkers with our workouts a lot, and we use chains, resistance bands, sleds, weight vests, and timed lifts in order to make our lifting more effective. He also runs an Oly class once a quarter. I never have the chance to attend because of my erratic schedule, but everyone who takes it comes away with beautiful technique and an overall increase in weight they are able to move. I just have a speed issue; I have trouble dropping under the bar quickly. But it all comes in time.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 9:48 PM on January 31, 2011


Huh! Sounds like a pretty unusual affiliate. I'd love to know which one it is.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 9:57 PM on January 31, 2011


As a morbidly obese woman, once a serious FA supporter, I'm not crazy using the word "skinny" because of my own issues, but I'm falling in love with lifting weights, seeing the changes in my body, and simply feeling better. Sites like that keep me motivated to move from just exercising to training.
posted by tar0tgr1 at 10:54 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anatoly Pisarenko: What do you expect Anatoly Pisarenko to post about?

Man thongs?
posted by Aizkolari at 3:13 AM on February 1, 2011


Anatoly, check out www.crossfitwilmington.com. I think you'll like what we do.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 5:41 AM on February 1, 2011


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