Charlene Wittstock, the South African Olympic swimmer who’s set to marry Prince Albert of Monaco next week, is prepping for her wedding by not lifting weights. The already-slim former Olympic swimmer told Vogue that she’s laying off her regular exercise routine in anticipation of her inaugural debut as Princess:
In preparation for the perpetual camera-readiness expected of her as first lady of Monaco, she has cut out weight training and increased her stretching time to give her body a leaner line.
And thus more women were scared off of weight training.
In their article “Fit For a Princess,” Vogue is a lot more interested in Wittstock’s journey to find her “fashion feet” than how she maintains her figure, but in one fell sentence, they’ve managed to perpetuate bad stereotypes about weight training and physical fitness. In fact, the average woman needs more weight training to get a “leaner line,” and lots stretching is probably a good thing for competitive (or formerly competitive) athletes like Wittstock, but most brides aren’t professional athletes and don’t need to worry about looking bulky if they prep for their weddings in the weight room.
The sentence from Vogue is already getting interpreted and promulgated as news that cutting back on weights = staying slim. Just check out the paraphrasing in New York Magazine:
Her to-do list, once she becomes princess, Vogue tells us, includes averting too much weight training to keep her figure slim and camera-ready, and promoting Monaco as one of the world’s fashion capitals.
If Wittstock, who retired from professional swimming three years ago after an ankle fracture, wants to change up her workout routine to better suit her lifestyle, it’s really none of my concern. But so many women are chasing after the best workout routine to look like their favorite stars, that it’s sad when a big publication like Vogue makes remarks like this that scare women away from some of the most healthy and effective ways to work out.
So to set the record straight:
- Weight training is the most effective way to cut fat. Building and maintaining muscle mass is key for a healthy metabolism. Plus, a study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who did an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they did when they hadn’t lifted weights. Done on a regular basis, that adds up to a lot of extra calories burned.
- You won’t bulk up from lifting weights. Many women stay away from weights for fear that they’ll bulk up; the vast majority of women simply can’t get muscles like the hulk without putting in the effort of a professional body builder. We’d have to eat more than 2,000 calories a day, many of us would have to take hormones, and we’d have to be on a much more intense training regimen than you’d ever see recommended in a magazine, diet book, or by a trainer at your gym. Remember: Even long, lithe Heidi Klum lifts weights with trainer David Kirsch, and we doubt she’s worried about looking like an Amazon.
- Strength training strengthens bones. If you hope to live past your Princess years and become a good-looking, strong Queen, you need to lift weights. Multiple studies have shown that weight training helps post-menopausal women maintain bone mass, which helps protect against osteoporosis and maintains overall physical condition. (Plus, according to the Los Angeles Times, “studies are finding that more lean muscle mass may allow kidney dialysis patients to live longer, give older people better cognitive function, reduce depression, boost good cholesterol, lessen the swelling and discomfort of lymphedema after breast cancer and help lower the risk of diabetes.” Do we have you sold yet?)
Besides, wouldn’t you rather have awesome swimmer’s shoulders than look like you never work out?
Photo: Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue