Workouts are inherently empowering. They make you feel great, they get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing. They leave you with tons of energy that makes you feel like you can conquer your entire to do-list and more. But certain workouts really push you to new heights and distances — and so far out of your comfort zone that you truly feel like you can do anything. Certain workouts build your confidence in yourself and improve not only your strength and stamina, but they totally change how you view yourself.
If you’ve ever completed a distance event or met a goal you previously thought was impossible, you know what I’m talking about. That feeling of pride in yourself and your abilities and how powerful you feel is palpable. And once you have that feeling, you want it again and again. It’s why everyone should have a fitness bucket list and always be working toward goals. But what if you don’t have a major fitness accomplishment on the horizon or you’re months away from an endurance event and you want that feeling now? I’ve rounded up the top seven workouts that will make you feel strong, empowered, and like you can rule the world. This way you don’t have to wait to cross that big finish line — you can feel empowered by doing any of these workouts, anytime!
7 Empowering Workouts to Try 1 of 9
Need a confidence boost with a side of fitness benefits? Try any of these seven empowering workouts for women!
Martial Arts 2 of 9
Whether you take karate, taekwondo, jujutsu, judo or even just a kickboxing class at your local gym, you'll learn lots of useful combat techniques — handy for fitness and self-defense alike. Learning to punch, kick, wrestle opponents and maybe even break a wooden block will give you tons of empowering confidence.
Photo credit: CP_Hadley, Flickr
CrossFit 3 of 9
CrossFit and CrossFit-type workouts are the ones you've been hearing a lot about lately. CrossFitters do a "Workout of the Day," commonly called "WOD," which entails anything from burpees to squats, to jump rope to pull-ups and push-ups. Rope climbs, tire flips, and box jumps are just a few of the moves you're not going to find in your average group exercise class. The high intensity program pushes participants to new levels of fitness, and participants often have the calluses to prove it. Imagine pushing yourself to do a pull-up, overcoming a fear of heights to climb a rope to the ceiling of the gym or doing a push-up from a handstand position. It's enough to make any woman feel like she can do anything.
Photo credit: CrossFit Fever, Flickr
Self-Defense 4 of 9
I took a self-defense class several years ago, and while it wasn't a workout, per se, it's such an important thing to do. Preparing mentally for the unthinkable, and actually going through the motions of fighting off an attacker, is super helpful. Jarrett Arthur, who recently shared tips for staying safe this holiday season, teaches self-defense courses designed specifically for moms (pictured). Based on Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense system, her programs offer strategies for reducing your potential for being a target, how to set verbal and physical boundaries, and effective striking techniques. According to Arthur, all of her students leave her course feeling confident that they will succeed in a violent encounter. If you've never taken a self-defense class, look for them in your local community.
Boxing 5 of 9
If you've never taken a boxing workout class, you're missing out. I took one several years back at LA Boxing, and I quickly learned why boxing rounds are so short: they wear you out quickly! But the benefit to a tough boxing workout is that you leave feeling strong, even if you do leave class feeling worn out. There's nothing quite like actually punching a punching bag or using the speedbag to really feel empowered. If you don't have a boxing gym nearby, you can always try a boxing workout DVD, like the 12 Rounds Boxing Boot Camp by Empower Fitness.
Battle Ropes 6 of 9
Have you seen those big ropes lying around your gym? They're called battle ropes, and they're said to be super fun and super hard. But doing anything that's tough and slightly intimidating — even I haven't had the courage to pick them up at the gym — will make you feel on top of the world when you conquer it. If you're still intimidated, Self magazine recommends adding just 30 seconds between moves in a circuit workout. You'll get cardio and strength benefits while working your arms, chest, shoulders, back and core. Check out two moves to try here.
Pole Dancing 7 of 9
Pole dancing isn't just associated with bachelor parties any more. And pole dancing as a workout is said to be a confidence-building, empowering enterprise — not to mention great for fitness. If you look into the history of pole dancing, it actually has roots in acrobatics. While I haven't tried it, I am certainly impressed with those who have the strength and stamina to work out on a pole; it takes a lot of strength and coordination to master. You can find pole dancing fitness classes all over the country. If I could manage to take one and do anything other than trip over my feet, I'd feel like I succeeded.
Photo credit:_dChris, Flickr
Yoga 8 of 9
Yoga is a great mind/body practice that lets you get in touch with your body's strengths and weaknesses, its limitations and power. Not only is it empowering to get more in touch with your body by practicing yoga, but it's great to push your body's limits, too. Yoga isn't inherently competitive, but it does allow you to push yourself to improve. As a practice, there is no "yoga perfection," but you can gain strength, flexibility and improve your balance in the practice — all empowering. I remember once trying crow pose (pictured above) and thinking it was impossible. Fast forward a couple of months later when I could actually do it and balance in it for more than 10 seconds? I thought I could do anything I set my mind to!
Photo credit: daverose259, Flickr
Running 9 of 9
I've tried to get into running over and over again for years now. After training for my Tough Mudder and successfully completing the longest distance I've ever run — 10+ miles — I was determined to stick with it so as not to lose all my running endurance. I can personally say there is nothing more empowering than easily completing a distance you once thought was impossible or actually feeling good after running a few miles, rather than totally spent and exhausted. Pushing yourself to run farther and better is super empowering; add in runs with a hill with a scenic view at the top, and you'll feel on top of the world.
Photo credit: Josiah Mackenzie, Flickr
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