Have you ever swung a steel mace?
I hadn’t until today, but I had fun and it was even more exciting because it happened in a new fitness studio that opened near me called “La Femme Strong”. La Femme Strong bills itself as “a multi-disciplinary strength training community for women and those who experience a “femme” identity. Our goal is to create an inclusive atmosphere that celebrates individual strength and alters the dominant fitness narrative in order to take up space and embrace our bodies’ unique abilities.” Sounds great. I’ve heard variations on this description before and it is not always true. Based on my experience today, I can confirm it indeed seems to be honest advertising.
La Femme Strong has had other, smaller, locations in East Toronto, but I was excited when I saw that it moved into a new space about 5 min from my home. I do have a regular strength training gym that I have been going to for several years, which is also a “women’s only” gym. I won’t get into describing the differences between the two here, but while I enjoy the workouts, the coaches and my workout buddies who I’ve come to build a sense of community with, it’s nice to change things up, here and there, and it definitely felt like I did that today.
When I arrived, a woman named Katie greeted me and then the owner, Sydney, who was teaching the Strength class I had signed up for, arrived to greet me as well. There was an immediate chill vibe that made me feel at ease. The front foyer has a sign with the words, “Work out because you love your body”. There is also a drawing on the wall of a curvy woman with brown hair with the words, “Stop waiting to be enough”.
When you walk through the space there are lockers, a couple restrooms and more art of curvy women with words such as “Our bodies fold and roll…it’s fine” and “Tighten your belt and get after it. Then rest and go again” and “Lose baggage before weight”.
The next room has about 6 squat racks and various kettlebells, straps, rings, etc. and maces. I’ll get back to the maces shortly. Past the room that the Strong class was to take place, was another room, where a small Pilates class was taking place at the same time. Each room seemed to hold about 10 people (if doubling up on the squat racks). The gym holds various classes. I have been told there is a class where drumming is part of the workout (and squats and lunges). It also sounds like a good time and I will have to try it out.
For the Strong class I attended, there were 3 participants that day. the other women seemed to be regulars. They were about my age or a bit older.
Sidney led us through a warm-up which involved deadlifts with a kettlebell, ring work and plie squats with the kettlebell. After the warm-up, we did 3 rounds of split squats with the squat rack paired with clean and push press with the kettlebells. Next, we completed 8 rounds of EMOMs of 5 deadlifts, 5 pushups, and then we got to swing the mace for the rest of the minute. Sydney demonstrated the movement with the mace. She showed us how you get the right angle to one side and then let it fall and bring it back up on the other side and then overhead. You get to swing it overhead! Being an overthinker and a bit clumsy with anything that requires coordination, I felt a bit unsure…but “once I got the swing of it” I loved it. I could definitely see the benefits. Aside from the work on your grip strength, triceps, lats and more, it was just fun and empowering. What’s not to love if you are a fit feminist!
Needless to say, I plan to try more classes at La Femme Strong and if you are in East Toronto and identify as a woman, I recommend trying it out too.
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