GF8WG or in other words Grace Fit’s 8 Week Guide is a weight lifting programme designed by Grace over at GraceFitUK. I started this programme as a friend of mine had picked it up, was really enjoying it and had found it to be more body positive, or at least less body shaming, than other things she’d tried in the past. Oh, how wrong we were. But first the positive aspects.
It’s an 8 week plan split in to two lots of 4 weeks, with 5 work outs a week. There is also a glossary with a description and images of each exercise which I found really useful as although I know my way around the weights section of a gym there are many different names for exercises and there were some things in the guide that were totally new to me. For the first week of each section the workouts seem to take forever, not in a bad way, but when you leave the gym you look at the time and realise you’ve been in there for 2 hours. Once you are used to the moves, know where you’re going and what equipment you need, they do speed up a little.
Like most weight training programmes the guide focuses on one area of the body per session for example, legs one day, back and shoulders another etc. From the offset it’s pretty hard going if you are pushing yourself and lifting heavy each time. I have never known DOMS like it but once I got my protein consumption well timed and did plenty of stretches they lessened. I did find that I quickly gained strength and was reaching for heavier weights however I did modify the programme. My physiotherapist advised me that the guide uses too many reps to be building true strength. That’s when the cracks started to really show.
When you purchase the guide you can join a Facebook group with other people doing it. What I wasn’t prepared for, although with hindsight I probably should have been, was the level of body shaming. People were criticising themselves for “flaws” that I didn’t even know existed. “Hip bumps”? I thought that was just your hips. I understand that good nutrition is important especially when you are taking part in such intense workouts but that’s not the kind of discussion that was always taking place in the group – in reality it was diet chat verging on eating disordered behaviour, and NO ONE was calling it out. “An eating window”, “trying to be good”, “I was bad this weekend and now feel so guilty” were all phrases that cropped up a lot. On more than one occasion someone posted a fat shaming meme that everyone laughed along with and it was all just a thoroughly unpleasant environment. A strength training group for women had the potential to be so positive and empowering but it just wasn’t.
Over time I also came to realise that the guide itself wasn’t really about strength training, rather looking a certain way. It’s called “build a booty” or something similar which I had hoped was just a marketing gimmick but it would appear from advice I’ve received from my physio that is is a “vanity strength” programme. While not going about it in the same way as skinny teas or similar products it’s still peddling the message that one body type is better than another. It’s very much on trend with Kim K and the like selling the idea that you need to have a big bum and a small waist. The thing with bodies is they all naturally have their own shape and that doesn’t change along with the trends.
In the process of doing this guide myself and others felt ourselves becoming more critical of our bodies, focusing on the visual changes rather than becoming stronger and fitter. Hannah documented those changes on her blog, and she also spoke about them in her recent body positive post which is here..
I still use the document as part of my workouts, it was a great introduction to new lifts and exercises, but I pick out the exercises I enjoy and mix it in with other things like body weight training, but I’m no longer hung up on following the programme and I feel so much better for it.
Have you picked up an exercise programme you really love or do you know of any good body positive ones out there? Let me know in the comments.