How much does a child weigh? Depends on the child… right? So how much should a mother be able to lift and hold in order to bring the child up? Can you quantify it? Should you?
A minor bugbear of mine is the classes you see for women – yes, specifically women, which are based on “toning”. These classes tend to involve small weights… maybe up to about 5kg each. Not only this, but in women specific gyms (so I have been told) the weights tend to get to about 10kg, and not really any higher. Women who want to lift more end up wandering into the blokes bit to “borrow” some more weight. (this is indeed hearsay – it is the case in *some* but not *all* women only gyms).
Another anecdote which I am going to pull out of the hat is an experience of someone I know at a WI meeting where another lady protested that gyms shouldn’t need anything above 6kg – who would ever want to lift more than that?
Yes, all anecdotal, and yes, this is being written by Tim, please direct fire at him, not Lynne.
Now, why do these things get my goat?
Before I get into all the benefits of actually lifting things off the ground and moving them around, I want you to consider this: the ladies that head into these classes start to feel that they can’t (shouldn’t) lift anything more than 4-6 kg. Anything heavier is a “no-go”. They then wander out and pick up their kids and throw them around, (not literally) in and out of prams, car seats, high chairs etc.
Now I’m NOT saying they shouldn’t be doing these things. Not by any standard. However, pause for a moment and consider how much a small child weighs. I don’t have one to hand, but I do have a cat. He’s 6 and a bit kg. Apart from the minor inconvenience of the claws, none of the women who have visited our house have EVER said… oooh. I don’t think I’ll be able to lift him up. Far too heavy.
Present them with a 6kg kettlebell and immediately there is doubt in the eyes.
I’m guessing that children tend to weigh as much as (and possibly… just possibly) even more than Hobbes. In fact, in the writing of this Lynne’s clients has said their kid weighs about 3.5 stone. Ok – visualise a mum picking up a 3.5 stone child. Seems reasonable… right? Now present them with a 22.5kg kettlebell.
Different story, right? Why?!
One of my clients who currently has back pain (and previously had shoulder issues) has told me her 18 month old weighs more than 12kg. That’s the weight of the Blue Kettlebell in our gym. Did she do anything to prepare herself for carrying around something the weight of a kettlebell for a lot of the day? No. Did it even cross her mind prior to the birth? No. Did anyone even suggest it might be a good idea? Apparently not – it was all whale music and breathing exercises. (which are not bad, per se and have their place… but should not be used to the detriment of being able to pick up and hold a child).
To my mind, this is crazy. Become pregnant, and you start down a line of an inexorable increase in the amount of weight you are going to have to carry around. Not just through the initial 9 months, but beyond into the world of shopping and car seats and buggies and cooking with one arm etc. I know there are myriad places to get information when pregnant. Advice about vitamins and sleep and colours and what not to do and what to do and music to play and how not to get stressed and all manner of useful (and sometimes not-so-useful) things, but no-one ever seems to talk about getting fit and strong to protect YOU from overuse strains doing new things with your child.
Instead of going to a gym and perpetuating the idea that exercise involves nothing more than 3-4kg of weight in each hand, that anything more than that is a heavy weight, maybe we should be promoting the idea that women are strong. Maybe we should be giving women the tools to be able to lift, carry, push and generally handle the every growing weight of a kid in a safe and strong manner, rather than making do with inefficient and ineffective movement strategies. Movement strategies that can end up with tired, strained and painful muscles and achy joints.
There is of course the concern that by lifting heavier weights than 5kg will make you look hench, and end up looking like those quite astonishing ladies on stage who appear to be 100% muscle.
I have seen these ladies train. I’ve seen them diet to strip every ounce of fat that they can. It takes an astonishing amount of effort and dedication. If anyone had even 20% of their training dedication they would probably double their abilities with no fear of ending up looking anything like them.