Finding the Right Gym for You – Women, Strength Training and Overcoming Muscle Memories

July 10, 2017
Women and Weight training BBC

Muscle memory.

A term intended for the physical, but often leveraged when referring to ways of thinking and doing as well.  An inherent and trained resistance to do something differently, or to try something new.

Muscle memory is hard to overcome just as bad habits are hard to quit.

When I worked in corporate America muscle memory was a buzzword set that often showed up in meeting rooms when things were shifting and reorganizing, or with the introduction of a new process or a new system.  And, it seemed that things were changing more than they weren’t.

The result:  a requirement to change the memory of your ‘muscle’ to think and do differently.

In the physical sense, muscle memory essentially means that muscles have memories in movements and if they are trained to move a certain way, they can be hard to change.  Much like it is hard to overcome memories and set ways of thinking.

Change is hard.

But I have realized muscle memory isn’t always right.  Sometimes the memory is riddled with biases or prejudices that lie deep within a human being and cause them to turn away from something simply because of their established and preconceived notions.

Growing up as an athlete, I always thought lifting weights would change my body and make me bulky.  I did not want that outcome.  Little did I know it was far from true.  And, even if it was true, it would have been an uphill battle to bulk-up my skinny arms and chicken legs!

I once worked with a woman who was convinced her adolescent cheerleading involvement had given her big thighs.  She lamented at great lengths that she could not reduce the size of her thighs and blamed it on youth cheerleading.  In reality, cheerleading was the fall guy for the nature side of the age-old nature versus nurture debate.  We are all diverse compilations of genes and, simply put, there are some tendencies and bodily characteristics that will always be more amplified, smaller or simply different than another woman standing beside us.

We just have to remember we can modify them through what we do and how we eat!

Just over a year ago as I lollygagged along lamenting to anyone who would listen to how old and out of shape I was, I bought a Groupon for a local gym.   Burn Boot Camp.  It was either that or move to the moon where gravity isn’t as strong.  Honestly, the moon would be easier in so many ways, but given it wasn’t an option, I elected the former. 😉

Burn Boot Camp is sweeping the nation offering opportunities to form fit communities of women across the country.

Never the same workout, free childcare and exercise routines scientifically proven to make women stronger and healthier. 

And, the icing on the cake (or maybe the sea salt on the kale chip) is that my little town is fortunate to have Daniel, the 2016 Trainer of the Year, who is also shining under the lights of the latest award, “The Mark of Excellence.”

It was there, with the support of Daniel and the other women, where my muscle memory with regard to incorporating weights into my exercise routine changed.  I realized, despite my mental resistance, that weight training was not going to make me bulky.


Now, I will admit, I still cringe and avoid eye contact if I see Daniel walking with determination in my direction wielding weights that are heavier than the ones I’ve conservatively chosen.  And, I whimper and whine a little when he stops in front of me and trades his for mine.  But, “no excuses” is one of their mantras.

Darn them.

They are good.  Their entire framework is set-up to make you, “stronger than your excuses.”

And, so far, I haven’t died, or gotten injured and hopefully instead I’ve experienced one of the many benefits of their workouts that I share below.  And, hey – dying while exercising is one of my real fears even though I know it is quite irrational, so that ‘not dying’ accomplishment is kind of key for me. 😉

Sometime between my youth athletics and now, the Earth revolved around the sun enough times to plop me into my forties and morphed my physique away from my skinny frame of yesteryear.  I have new curves and crevasses cropping up with each glance in the mirror.  My clothing size is actually smaller, but we all know that is a fashion industry conspiracy. (eye roll)

But oddly, at forty-ahem, I am stronger physically than I have ever been and that includes the time I trained for and ran a marathon.  Endurance to run over 26 miles in a single morning, but not netting any new major physical strength.  (If you don’t believe me click the link at the bottom of the page to see my arm muscles now compared to this marathon picture taken 15 years ago).

Oh and if you are thumbing through choices for your marathon experience, I highly recommend Honolulu, Hawaii.  Just remember, you have to run up a volcano.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Honestly, I owe it all to Burn Boot Camp Mooresville and everything it conveys.

Doesn’t this photo make you wanna uncoil one of those battle ropes and whip it around like you own it? 🙂

So, in order to share why Burn has it all figured out, I partnered with Daniel to help outline why you should try it, including a little of the science behind it.

To start with, BBC has signs like this:

But Why the Weights and Why Burn Boot Camp?

Burn Boot Camp operates with a philosophy of five fantastic principles that they call pillars.

1. Mindset

Mind over matter is a real thing.  Once you overcome this, you can do anything.  Unfortunately, for me, this one is very hard.  When I am 45 seconds into a one-minute plank, it is my mind counting the seconds and telling me to fail before the 60 second mark.  It’s also my mind that offers up the Kettle Brand potato chips to accompany my lunch (nom nom).

My body hasn’t transformed to its full fit potential because of my mindset.

2. Nutrition

It is simple and requires no loquacious explanation:  you are what you eat.  Period.

The main goal is to move from thinking “I can’t eat that” to “I don’t want to eat that.”  I wrote about US News and World Report’s top diets not long ago and most of them have a whole foods foundation.  Go figure!

3. Strength Training

This is a big one for me also even though my muscle memory bias with regard to weights has shifted.

Without strength training it is likely you will lose 3 to 8 percent of your muscle mass every decade. A regular strength training program will help you reduce body fat and burn calories more efficiently, all the while preserving your muscle mass (despite your age).  The result?  Healthy weight loss.  An additional benefit?  Your body keeps working after it stops exercising, experiencing a process called “after-burn,” resulting in the burning of more calories via “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC.

Resistance training can also increase a resting metabolism by 7 percent and help to minimize that muscle loss.  A win win!

4. Burst Training

Burst training raises your muscle-building hormones (testosterone and the human growth hormone (HGH) a.k.a. the “fountain of youth” hormone).  It also boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, and helps to burn fat faster.

5. Environment

If you are going to exert yourself in the form of exercise, you need an environment that is positive and enforces your goals and supports your efforts.  A community.  And, despite the sweat and exhaustion, you fully feel the mission in the ambience and the efforts of those around you:

And, the founders ensure it is conveyed in every Burn Boot Camp across the country.

But Why Me – The Washed-Up and ‘Has-Been’ Athletic Forty Something Year-Old Woman?

There are a lot of reasons.  Ten great ones to be exact.

Daniel shared a fabulous article with me which details ten reasons why resistance training is important for ‘older’ women.  And, darn it, despite my denial, I now fall into that category.  Middle-age.  Eye roll.  Sigh. (Although I think I am more of a perennial 🙂 ).

  1. You will lose body fat.
  2. You will gain strength without bulk.
  3. You reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
  4. You will improve your athletic performance.
  5. You will be physically stronger.
  6. You reduce your risk of injury, back pain and arthritis.
  7. You will reduce your risk of heart disease.
  8. You will reduce your risk of diabetes.
  9. It is never too late to benefit.
  10. You will improve your attitude and fight depression.

For a more-detailed explanation of each reason, click here .

Honestly, after summarizing all of that for you, I feel thankful, more-informed and even more-motivated to go to the gym! I hope you do too.

And, I know not all of my readers reside in the Lake Norman area, but if you do – they just expanded their facility and you get the added benefit of training under Daniel.  Tell him I sent you!  But, if you don’t live in these parts, you don’t have to pack up and move here just yet because chances are there might be a BBC close to you – they are sweeping the nation.  Click here and find your location!

You will see results.  And remember!  Free childcare!

Journey on to your nearest Burn Boot Camp (and if one is way, way too far away, then check out my friend Brittany’s Burn-inspired exercises here),

XO, a more-fit Melissa and mama.  If you don’t believe me, check out my muscle here 🙂


I was not paid to write this post.  I am a sincere advocate of Burn Boot Camp, due to my own experiences and the transformations I have seen of others.  To help feed their mission to help women achieve better health, I partnered with my local BBC to share my story and as such my membership fees are waived.

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