As a father to a girl, I always tell my daughter that she can do whatever she sets her mind to do. She has no concept of there being any limitations because of gender. She has grown up playing sports with her older brother and has turned into a gym rat. A day does not pass without her asking to play in the gym.
Yet, while she calls it play time, my six year old will be the first person to tell you not to talk to anyone who is in the middle of a set. She is well aware of the unwritten rules of the gym. She is not there to socialize. She is always doing something. Whether she is jumping rope, climbing rope, or playing with the bars, she keeps herself busy and is always looking for a new challenge. If I had a nickel for every time she asked for five more minutes in the gym, I would have at least one year of her college tuition saved in the bank.
Unfortunately, it seems like my daughter’s interest in sport and exercise is somewhat unique. As a coach in the community, I rarely see young girls who are as eager to participate and play. It seems as if many girls are steered away from such activities. It is much more common to see fathers out on the field with their sons. I’ve even seen parents who have sons and daughters who bring their boys to practice while the young girls sit on the sidelines and play with electronic devices.
I could not imagine leaving my daughter on the sideline to play with my phone while I am on the field with my son. What message are we giving our daughters if we make them sit out while the boys practice on the field? I want my daughter to participate. I would rather have her struggling to keep up with the older boys than sitting around doing nothing.
If more parents encouraged their daughters to compete without limitations, we would not be surprised at videos such as that below. Take a look at one girl who just finished her first summer of calisthenic training.
This young woman cranks out muscle-ups with ease. And this is all just after one summer of bodyweight training. Imagine what she will accomplish after a year or two of serious training? The sky is truly the limit.
Am I surprised?
Not at all. Why should I be surprised? Who said that women cannot perform exercises such as muscle-ups? Anyone who utters such a statement is a fool. I always tell my daughter that she can accomplish anything she wants to accomplish. Sure, she will fail at times. We all fail. I have failed more times than I could ever remember. Failure is often one of the most important stepping stones toward success. If you are ambitious, failure comes with the territory. Don’t run from it. Learn from it.
In summary, stop telling children what they can or cannot accomplish. Encourage them to try and let them chart their own course. We owe them that right. Every individual has a right to live their own lives and pursue their own dreams. I have no idea what my daughter will pursue as the years pass, but I will surely be by her side encouraging her each step of the way. No one will tell her what she can accomplish. She will find out for herself.
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” – Richard Bach
I do the same with my daughters Ross. My eight year old wants a pull up so bad she works on it whenever she can, she does the monkey bars and creates obstacle courses in the yard on our two big play sets. Then of course runs her brothers through them (beating them). It’s the best to watch and help them achieve those small fitness goals. My daughter loves coming to my gym. We’ve even started hosting fitness birthday parties there and the kids love it!
I agree with you totally….:D
My daughter is now 21 N- is not afraid of getting dirty. She goes out and challenges herself to play all kinds of sports, from Rigby, Football, Softball,etc U name it and she has grown to be tuff. Now she is in College taking up Boxing. My son in the other hand does not like the field, but my husband throws him out there anyway. 🙂 He loves Wrestling, Boxing and strength training. Sports keeps the Mind, Body and Sprit away from all the unnecessary drama the world as distraction of. I agree with U, totally “If more parents encouraged their daughters to compete without limitations, we would not be surprised at videos such as you show”>
Thank you for this! What a great Dad. Fitness is for everyone, and I am so glad your home gym is a welcoming place for women and girls. Your encouragement and ‘democratization’ of fitness is my favourite thing about your blog. I also love to see a rough-and-tough fitness guy blogging about a feminist issue. 🙂
That’s so true. What kids see, they emulate, regardless of gender. I have a 6 year old daughter who loves Barbies and fairy princesses. She also has participated in two Spartan Races so far, designs obstacle courses for her and her little brother, loves monkey bars and working on trying to do pull-ups, climbs my rope in the backyard and flips regular tires beside me and my tractor tire. She’s awesome! I see a lot of little girls of her generation whose parents are similarly encouraging and supportive of whatever they want to be, which gives me a lot of hope for the future.
I agree, I see a lot more of that too. I’m a body builder, Spartan racer, callisthenic minor, swimming/sprinting beast. And I loved barbies when I was a girl too. But when I went to school 20 years ago, girls were very encouraged to hit the sports field. And join teams. And the majority of my friends were basketball, hockey, soccer, volleyball, and lacrosse players. None of my gym teachers discriminated against girls either. In fact, I was lazy sometimes and would pretend I couldn’t do certain things because I was weaker, and my teacher would have none of that haha. It’s a great age for humanity 🙂
Ross, i remember the the post of yours a few years ago (?)
There was this phlipinean descendant woman who lost so much weight and turned into a exercise machine.
Ross you got common sense going on and are a positive voice for health and fitness as well as an innovator with all your training contraptions.
I don’t think girls should be placed in a box of limitations either and parents should make the kids more active too but if we expand the potential for fitness to its historical role at what its about at its core essence to go deep into combat In order to preserve or expand civilization is it smart to have girls in the middle of a battlefield? They are built to have babies and nurture homes not kill and conquer.
Would you want to be on a Military Operator team with bullets flying everywhere with a women on your team?
Testosterone helps keep a human body calm in the middle of battle-many vets will tell you most women soldiers panic when it gets heavy. They are not biologically designed for battlefields.
Your innovation in fitness is respectable and we should all push our limits and think outside the box.
Do you believe in feminism/social Marxism? You know all 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto are followed in Western civilizations now. Most colleges teach that garbage but you seem contrarian to the mainstream line of thought.
Not all women are built the same. Why not leave it up to the woman to decide her place?? I am a woman, and I’m a not a ‘panicker’. I thrive under stress, it fuels me. I become very calm under intense pressure. Not every woman is like me, though I know many who ARE, and not every man is like that either. It’s a silly stereotype to put women and men into these ‘molds’. If a women feels she is better at nurturing children at home, all the power to her. It’s very respectful in itself. But we are not all like that at all. To put it bluntly, I suck at the home front. I’m much better off bringing home the bacon. Though my husband and I bring home equal bacon in the same profession (which does not differ between the genders so he actually does not make more than me, which is otherwise very typical).
This applies to adults too, not just kids!
I recall encouraging a young lady who was in college but had never ran in her life. (She had hurried to places before, but never gone in a sports field and ran till she lost her breath.)
I asked her whether this was an actual fact, or whether she was making it up, because as a guy I couldn’t fathom how someone had never ran.
Anyway, I helped her by asking her to go to a treadmill and up the speed until she couldn’t “walk” and then up the speed some more, and she would be forced to ran.
What a great post!
There are a million things I wanna say;
how you are so right, how it is making me angry that you are right.
How I am so effing tired of the girls just sitting next to “insert activity here” and waiting for the boy…
How tired I am of the idea of if a girl is lifting heavy she will look like a boy.
How girls learn to be passive, when it is so much more fun to be active…
I am so glad you are bringing your daughter with you Ross, I wish so many more parents did the same.
which reminds me, I have a niece that is really good kicking the ball, I’m taking her out for some kicking and running.
I just came to read this now as I was out with my girls in the woods and in the climbing playground:)
What a fantastic article!! My father told me that too, he always told me that I can do whatever I put my mind to. And for some reason, coming from him, I always believed it. When I almost didn’t go into my chosen field (I am a Peace Officer, and I was also a cosmetician, it’s a weird combination I know 😉 ) because I didn’t quite feel I could be taken seriously as a officer who is a woman, who is also a beautician. He pretty much verbally smacked me (in a good way), he said something like “Why on earth would you think that? You are the only one putting that limitation on your mind. Go do it, forge ahead! Be the first one, and prove it can be done. Stop sitting by the sidelines because of something so silly. You are only limited by yourself”. Coming from him, it really set me straight and propelled my confidence, and life choices, skyward. It’s so wonderful that you can do that for your daughter too 🙂