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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Weight rooms aren't just for boys anymore

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Kaitlyn Turbow works on the leg press machine.
SIKESTON - Walk into any weight room in the area these days and you hear the usual sounds of weights being lifted and bodies being worked to optimum usage.

What is out of the ordinary, but becoming the norm, is that what was once a sanctuary for males to pump iron, has become integrated with eager females lifting right alongside them.

Today, many high school female athletes are taking up weight training as a normal part of getting in shape for sports. Stereotypes are being put to rest that girls do not belong in the male-dominated weight room.

Many female athletes use weights to increase strength, improve agility and to improve overall appearance.

"Weight training is an invaluable tool for girls," said Kelly girls softball coach Rhonda Ratledge. "From 15 years ago to today, many more girls have started to get in the weight room and hit the weights. Kelly High School offers a weight training class just for girls, and it is packed with students looking to increase their strength. I think that girls have started to realize that weight training increases your chances of playing well in sports and it keeps their bodies in shape."

Sikeston sophomore Jordi Ferrell works to strengthen her legs.
Dexter girls basketball coach Gavin Miller agrees that girls hit the weights to not only help their chances in sports, but to also keep their bodies in great shape.

"Our girls enjoy the weight room because besides keeping their bodies in peak condition, girls like to look at how their muscles are getting ripped in the weight room mirror just like the boys do. Weight training helps maintain a healthy lifestyle and the girls like the effects of a fit body."

High school girls are in weight training programs that go year-round, to stay in shape for their sport. Depending on the sport, girls focus on a particular movement to try and strengthen muscles.

According to Sikeston girls soccer athlete Jordi Ferrell, weight training is a big part of her workout.

"Most of the time I concentrate on an abdominal workout with upper and lower back training," said Ferrell. "I also work on my legs; calves, hamstrings and quads. With my workout I notice that I am running faster for a longer period of time and during games I am physical enough to prevent from being knocked to the ground, thanks to my weight and conditioning program."

Ferrell works on a weight machine
Fellow Sikeston girls soccer and softball player Kaitlyn Turnbow is also hitting the weights hard this year.

"I work on my arms for softball and my legs for the soccer season," said Turnbow. "I work my upper arms a lot in softball season and my quads and calves for soccer. Really try to condition my muscles to be strong for that sport I am participating."

Ferrell credits her father and a local training program that help her get in shape for soccer.

"A lot of the time," said Ferrell, "I work at home with my dad down in the basement. I have gone to St. Francis Hospital in Cape Girardeau and did their six-week weight program. I have done training with Amy Gordon from ReStart here in Sikeston. I do agility work with my soccer coach and work on quickness."

Turnbow is also in local programs to help out her conditioning.

"I did a program at ReStart last summer that worked on cycling, weight training and agility with Amy Gordon. At school, I have aerobics and eighth hour weight training, plus I have a treadmill and some weights at home."

Both Ferrell and Turnbow believe that over 25 girls participate in the weight training class at Sikeston High School.

Why some say girls can get too "buff," Ferrell and Turnbow believe that sky's the limit for their physique.

"I just want to get as strong as it takes to compete," said Ferrell. "I want to go for the overall look of having a fit body that competes at a high level."

Turnbow echoes the sentiments of Ferrell.

"I want to look good and to be the best I can be in sports," said Turnbow. "Weight training is something I want to be involved in way past high school."

Lifting weights has evolved now in girls that when their high school days are numbered, they continue weight training in their adult years.

"I want to play soccer in college," said Ferrell. "I won't stop working out. I have to keep improving my body so that I can compete with anybody."

Ratledge agrees that a big motivator for young girls is that their competitive drive has increased, and with the competition is the desire to keep body at maximum peak.

"These girls today are very competitive," said Ratledge. "If they are not working out on a consistent basis, they lag behind and once you are behind, it is tough to keep up."

Watching Ferrell and Turnbow in the weight room, instantly you knew that this was not a foreign place for them.

Easily moving 45-pound plates from station to station was an eye-opening experience. The two were at ease with the machines and used proper technique at every point.

"Weight training keeps you healthy and in shape," said Ferrell. "You don't have to play sports to benefit from working out. If you want to look better, working out can increase your self-esteem and I think can help you live a better way of life."

Turnbow believes that in sports, weight training is the key to success.

"In softball, it helps you run faster and hit the ball further," said Turnbow. "But for girls who don't play sports, working out makes you healthy and gives the overall appearance of a well-maintained individual."

More and more girls are not taking over the weight room, but are becoming equal partners with the boys. Girls take working out extremely serious and work hard to improve themselves at every opportunity.

Ferrell and Turnbow look for bigger and better things from their workout routines. They are constantly trying to improve their maximum weights lifted and are not shy about wanting to put up big numbers. Ferrell stated without reservation that her personal best on squats is 500 pounds.

Any questions about how girls are adapting to the male-dominated weight room?