BY Laura Kenny

Lift, Hike or Climb: there's no such thing as a boys' sport.

We’re living in 2018, the age of the empowerment of women, and every other female friend of yours is #Beyoncé and a Queen. Yet, looming over our delirious leaps and bounds to social equality is one of the strangest environments: The Gym.

Let’s be honest - the Gym is a place we have mixed feelings about at best. Tying us to our new year’s resolutions with a cool $25 a week or commitment, forcing us to buy hundreds of dollars of active wear to be appropriately fashionable to our peers, smelling somehow permanently of sweaty balls and tangy surface cleaners – truly a party for the olfactory senses.

It’s hard to capture the limelight that you experience as a sole female braving the weights section of any given gym at any given hour. Especially for us women with pretty normal bodies that aren’t perfect, the marriage of a voyeuristic audience with your very normal bodily insecurities, is about as tempting at 7am as a hot poke in the ovary.

Intellectually we all know that comparing yourself to others is a poisonous habit and we ought to work out to better ourselves, tire ourselves out, care for our minds and emotions. Emotionally though, we don’t look as elegant as her, and we can’t lift as much as him, and we worry we look like the before-shot in some heinous gym ad. But the truth is, elegance and beauty has nothing to do with it – and if you can’t remember that, get out of the gym.

The truth is that there are many types of bodies, with many specific strengths and weaknesses, heavinesses and lightnesses. For example, I have strong arms that make doing push-ups and hitting rackets and acrobatics easier. One of my best friends has strong legs that make cycling a cinch – a perfect torture for me.

When it comes to our bodies, we ought to lean into our strengths and joys and not give a second thought to the things we look awful doing, feel naturally incompetent at or socially embarrassed to give a go. Moving is moving and sweat is sweat, and I say, take the easy wins.

If you’re like me and you’re a girl who’s not up for bouncing up and down and pretending to be a light spring chicken here three ideas for exercises you may have considered the domain of the men:

1.     Lifting Weights

That’s right, the least elegant of them all. Lifting gets a bad rap but in truth, is an art-form to be perfectly and worked upon, competing only with yourself. If you’re looking to have the highest return on time spent, try a basic weights routine which burns calories in rebuilding muscle for up to 38 hours after you train. If you’re new and it all seems scary, start with the big three: Squats, Dead-Lifts and Bench Presses.

2.     Rock Climbing and Bouldering

Sometimes considered the domain of shirtless men and daredevil types, Climbing is actually a sport that is super democratic to body size and type. This is because climbing is equally strenuous no matter your weight – it is a test of relative strength. Beyond this, climbing requires a kind of total mental concentration in calculating your path up the wall – the best version of mindfulness in my opinion.

3.     Hiking

Humans are designed for exactly this. Savanah creatures, we thrive on our ability to cover long distances without muscular failure and are incredible endurance walkers. Hiking not only provides a linear sense of achievement to reach new destinations, but also moves you out of the city and into nature. It goes fast and slow and let’s your brain diffuse tension by dint of time. Best feature is – if you hate the way you look exercising, at least hiking, no one can see you, and you can only see beautiful vistas.

We may not all have the gift of feeling like a breathing beauty standard, but we all have the gift of effort and sweat and being ugly under strain and succeeding where once we failed.