At the dawn of scientific breakthroughs and global tolerance deep stereotypes still hover in society, many of which relate to physicality in the broadest sense - from race and gender to physique and physical characteristics. Athletes also get it. There are whole charts of the "most feminine" kinds of sports: rhythmic gymnastics, figure skating, and athletics are leading in them. The blacklists, as a rule, include weightlifting, football, martial arts, marathon running: these sports are considered "men's", but the same figure skating or rhythmic gymnastics are often defined as inappropriate for guys. You can often hear comments that girls should "develop plasticity, flexibility and grace", as well as spend more time in the fresh air, "because it has a beneficial effect on the skin." Men, on the basis of such judgments, are supposed to choose especially traumatic disciplines and show aggression in sports.
We decided to talk to guys and girls who practice gender-labeled sports about the specifics of their disciplines, how they came to these sports and how public opinion affects them. It turned out that there are much more amateur athletes who are ready to talk about their “non-female” hobbies than there are men with “non-male” ones. Probably, each of us has a friend or colleague who has managed to try himself in kickboxing, basketball or weightlifting, but hardly many can boast of meeting a guy who is fond of synchronized swimming or rhythmic gymnastics - usually only the names of professional athletes are heard. Some have yet to free themselves from social prejudices, while others have already overcome them. The heroines and heroes of our material are strong and beautiful people who destroy stereotypes on their own experience.
21 years old, World champion and European champion in synchronized swimming in mixed duet, First professional synchronized swimmer in Russia
Most people just haven't seen men in synchronized swimming
Synchronized swimming is now considered a women's sport, and until recently, only the women's category existed in the professional world. However, initially men were involved in synchronized swimming. In the 19th century it was called water ballet and the program was based on figures on the water, which now practically do not perform: now such movements seem too simple, and earlier it was believed that only men could do the discipline. Back in the 40s of the XX century, men were allowed to compete in mixed duets, that is, in pairs with women, but this was gradually abolished. Everything changed last year: it was decided to introduce mixed duets at the World Synchronized Swimming Championships in Kazan. There I performed with Darina Valitova in two programs - technical and free - and became the first man in the Russian national synchronized swimming team. The championship caused such a stir, which our discipline did not know before, and the broadcast, in terms of the number of views, overtook the diving, which had not happened before. In May 2016, mixed duets also competed at the European Championships, and my partner Mihaela Kalancha became champions.
Of course, mixed duets differ from women in terms of drama. The "romantic" tendency still dominates in the productions: as in dancing or figure skating, the story, as a rule, is about the relationship between a man and a woman. Mixed duets are a new trend in synchronized swimming, so choreographers first of all try to take on a fresh, unworked type of drama in a romantic way. But in terms of technology, everything is much more universal.The training program includes many related disciplines: on land it is artistic and artistic gymnastics, acrobatics, choreography, in the water - swimming, diving. Synchronized swimming ensures the harmonious physical development of a person of any gender.
When I was seven years old and in my hometown of St. Petersburg, boys began to be recruited into synchronized swimming groups, it was not completely clear why: there were no competitions for guys. I didn't set myself high
sports goals - the task was just to learn to swim. Due to the lack of prospects for guys in synchronized swimming, groupmates gradually left for other sports, and even the coach for the same reason eventually lost interest in working with boys. But I decided to train on my own and hoped that sooner or later the men's category would be included in the official program. Until now, there are only a few professional male synchronized interpreters in the world, but now national sports associations are adjusting to innovations and recruiting boys. In France, Canada, Japan, this trend is obvious. In Moscow and the regions of Russia, boys also began to be recruited more actively, but the paradox is that the rules in Russia have not yet been changed, and I, being the world champion, cannot officially perform in a mixed duet at the Russian championship - this is possible only out of competition.
I do not hear in my address opinions that I am engaged in a sport that is unsuitable for a man, although there are enough humorous and even offensive attacks on the side of synchronized interpreters on the Internet. This stereotype has developed because most people simply have not seen men in synchronized swimming, and since they have not seen, they cannot even imagine. In addition, one can often find performances of a very low level - especially abroad, where the discipline is more common among men and, accordingly, the spread in terms of performance technique is more clearly visible. The logical reaction to poor technique is: "Men's synchronized swimming is awful." But, watching performances at a high level, skeptics are surprised that men can look so good in this matter, and often immediately change their minds.
32 years old, Powerlifter (weight category up to 75 kg)
The first question they ask me is: “Why do you need all this? It's not feminine and dangerous to health. "
I have been playing rugby for fourteen years, but I had to leave due to a large number of injuries. I came to the gym to rehabilitate the joint and lose weight, but the "glands" really carried me away: I really liked to see what my body was capable of, and to feel pleasant fatigue after the lesson. The first months of training were aimed at strengthening the muscle corset, the program included a large number of accompanying exercises and solid stretching - all to adapt the body to work with weights. To develop in powerlifting, you need to improve your fitness and technique with each workout: the cleaner the technique, the lower the likelihood of injury and the easier it is to give in to weights.
Among powerlifters, women make up perhaps twenty-five percent. The first question they ask me when they find out about my hobby is: “Why do you need all this? It's not feminine and dangerous to health. " I want to be stronger and lift a lot. I want to look fit and athletic. Everyone has their own ideas about how a woman can look, I have my own, and I do not impose them on anyone. Because of stereotypes, girls are reluctant to go to gyms - they are afraid to "swing". I have been doing pretty serious work for two years now, my coach is the elite of Russia in the WPC bench press, and I still have not "swayed". As for health problems, they mainly occur in those who do not engage in any sport at all, and injuries occur in any sports discipline.
I look forward to the start of each workout and feel great pleasure during them.In rugby, the buzz is different, it is a team one: there everyone is a mountain behind each other - both on the field and beyond. When it seems that there is no longer any strength to run or capture, you just have to look
on the same emaciated teammate - and then the second wind opens, followed by the third and tenth. Powerlifting is an individual sport, and everything here depends only on me and the coach, so regardless of the intensity of a particular workout, I do not spare myself and give all my best.
Psychological work is also ongoing. After all, the return is felt only when you come to new records, and there are days when nothing works. In powerlifting, development is rather slow, especially in women due to physiology. It would seem that adding 2.5 kg to the weight taken is a mere trifle, but the struggle for these 2.5 kg can last for months. The moments when the training plan breaks down, you feel weak and start eating yourself up from the inside. If you do not pull yourself together in time, self-digging can continue until the next workout or until reaching a new weight. Sometimes it's better to stop thinking about numbers and just stick to a regimen - and after a while, the new weight will give in.
Particularly exciting event for me is competition, and this is with great competitive experience in rugby. Anxiety sets in about a month before the start. During this period, nutrition becomes very strict: it is important to maintain the weight category and at the same time not to overdo it, because if you throw off more than you need, the weight may not yield. Mandrazh does not let me go until the warm-up, but then all the excitement goes away. I set myself up for the same work as on a regular training day, I no longer notice others and only listen to the coach. So far, my results in the competition are not a complete reflection of my progress in the gym: the first time was caused by excessive weight reduction, the second time I made a technical mistake and the weight was not counted. My goal is to fulfill the master of sports standard, but even after that I will not stop.
28 years old, two-time champion of Russia in figure skating in men's singles, medalist of the European Championships and Grand Prix in figure skating
Courage is shown when a person fights, when he challenges - first of all, to himself
I got into figure skating by accident. I was enrolled in the section by my mother's friend along with her daughter: the parents decided that it would be good for health, and if you don’t like it, you can always quit. It was not close to home, so the section took a lot of effort and time. I didn't think that I would win prizes at international championships, but I quickly began to enjoy training, and I got involved. I have always done men's single skating and continue to skate alone.
Figure skating is one of the most difficult coordination sports: here there are rotations around its axis, and rotation in the air, and various jumps. It looks easy and casual, but in fact it is the result of tremendous work. The figure skaters' training program includes general physical fitness, gymnastics, choreography. We do not have strength training - for the most part we work with our own weight. During the preparatory period, we mainly train in the track and field arena and in the gym - we develop the physical component. The workouts are intense, there are many of them, this is a good drill. I realized long ago that in my case only discipline can give results. In youth, something can be compensated for with energy, talent, and with age, it seems to me, this stops working, and "physics" comes to the fore. Now I treat my own body like a machine: it must work harmoniously in order to show good results.
Until I decided whether I should become a coach, but I had a lot of them, so I already made a complete picture of this difficult craft.Now I am in the group of Inna Goncharenko, and before my trainers were mostly men.
However, it doesn't matter at all who trains you - a man or a woman, because every professional has his own approach. With someone it is customary to skate the entire program at once, someone first proposes to disassemble the layout, where skating is first of all worked out, and only then introduces jumps. With my current coach, I pay more attention to spins, ribs in jumps.
In some aspects of figure skating, gender brings its own specifics, but this is more about tradition and established rules than about physiology. Let's say the girls have a completely different set of jumps - they don't have triple and quadruple jumps. In general, the preparation is identical. Of course, there is a stereotype that figure skating is not courageous enough, but only some completely dark people can think so. If figure skating is “not courageous”, then what is courageous - the national football team, which takes the last places in all ratings and at all championships? Of course, in world football, guys enter the field and fight for life and death, and this requires serious resources - both physical and emotional. For me, courage doesn't depend on how aggressive your sport is. Courage manifests itself when a person fights, when he challenges - first of all, himself.
29 years old, Member of the women's American football team "Moscow Dragonflies"
Each of us cried at least once because of failure, but when progress is visible, sad moments are compensated by insane joy
I got into American football by accident. In the evenings, I teach group dance fitness classes, and at one of them I met a girl who spoke very inspiringly about the workout of the Moscow Dragonflies. I still cannot understand what made me stay in the team: in the first training session I did not succeed, the ball was frightening with its shape and speed, and it was difficult to figure out what was what. Perhaps, I was attracted by the training format, lovely girls in the team and a kind of exoticism inherent in American football in Russia. The specificity of the game is due to the very low level of popularity, especially among girls: it is difficult to assemble a team, find the necessary equipment and equipment, therefore, you often have to practice in Spartan conditions. But today, all over the country - from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok - amateur women's teams are rapidly emerging, and I think that in a couple of years American football will become as popular among women as among men.
The main feature of American football is full contact with the opponent. This frightens off many, but at the same time attracts those who are looking for new sensations. Getting the right tackle without breaking the rules, hurting yourself and bringing the team the maximum number of yards is what is important to learn first. Everything else - explosive speed, sudden changes of direction, fast running, strength, accuracy, agility - is present in many other sports and develops over time. Now we have two mandatory game trainings a week on the field, but besides that, I adjust my entire training process to American football: I work more on endurance, I take individual sprint training, I try to develop in strength indicators.
The physical and mental sensations on the field are a mixture of an accelerated heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, excitement, trembling in the fingers and the sensation of flight when you rush with a ball pressed to your heart
to the scoring area. Sometimes it’s very hard to come to terms with defeat, whether it’s a competition or a personal result in training. I'm sure each of us cried at least once because of failure, but when progress is visible, sad moments are compensated by insane joy for ourselves and pride in the team.I would be lying if I say that 30 women between the ages of 18 and 33 get along in a team without conflicts and do not like each other's souls. However, we do not have sharp clashes - on the contrary, many in the team have become very close friends, we rest together and spend our free time.
I heard that American football is not a woman's business a couple of times in the gym from unfamiliar men. Mom would probably be glad if I devoted all my free time not to training, but to creating a family, but she respects my interests and enjoys sports achievements. At first my boyfriend was a little surprised at my choice - primarily because of the high injury rate of the sport - but now he encourages my progress in every possible way and goes to watch the games of "Moscow Dragonflies". Girls from the team often complain about misunderstanding from friends. On the one hand, I consider people with such stereotypes in their heads to be at least ill-mannered, if not limited. On the other hand, this is the result of social attitudes. Most women will not trade Pilates, dance and fitness for American football, barbell or boxing, and they are understandable. I try not to react to sexist attacks and avoid communicating with people who are hostile to my hobby.
38 years old, Finalist of the Russian Championship in ballroom dancing among professionals (Latin American program), Choreographer, dance teacher, co-owner and director of the dance club GallaDance Monarch Center
Dancing is a great way to express emotions, and people of any gender and at any age can learn to do it
When in elementary school I signed up for the ballroom dancing section for the company of friends, my swimming coach tried to convince me of the expediency of this intention. “Why do you need these dances, it’s not a man’s business,” he said. At some point, I no longer had enough time for all my hobbies, and soon I would really quit dancing if I had not met a girl in class, whom I really liked. Gradually, I became more and more fascinated by the honed movements and old Latin American music, which was played on reel-to-reel tape recorders. Later, the partner of that same girl left, and I was paired with her. This became the point of no return: I gave up all other hobbies and decided to devote myself entirely to dancing.
The peak of my dance career came in the second half of the 90s: intensive classes, regular gatherings, master classes with famous teachers. Throughout almost my entire career, which is about ten years, I danced with my sister Ksenia Kasper. Many wondered how a brother and sister could work together and convey romantic feelings in dance. We were also tormented by this question - even a certain complex arose about this. But at some point, we realized that our work is akin to acting: a man and a woman do not need to be passionate about each other in order to convincingly play this passion.
At first, the sports component in dancing was very important for me: my partner and I wanted to compete, the goal was victory and high positions in the rating.
Only towards the end of my professional career did I come to understand that dancing for me is not a sport, but an art. These are two qualitatively different approaches: in the first case, we are talking about performance at the level of mechanics, when maximum perfection of movements and stability of technique are important, in the second case, acting is primary, the ability to convey sensations. I made a choice in favor of art.
In ballroom dancing, a couple comes out onto the parquet floor for the audience, and a certain aesthetics that the audience or the judge expects requires well-coordinated and impeccable movements from the dancers. Mastery comes to ballroom only after years of training. Social dances, in the direction of which I am now developing, are available to everyone: in dance clubs and at theme parties, everyone dances not for others, but for himself.Lindy hop, swing, salsa, afro - in these dances everything is built only around natural interaction in a pair, here you can change partners and improvise. I was attracted by this freedom, and I decided to work on a kind of synthesis of ballroom and social dancing in a technical and aesthetic sense.
In Soviet times, it was customary to think in stereotypes and it was believed that boys should be sent to the boxing or wrestling section. Now this attitude is outdated, in modern society everything is unisex - from clothes to perfume. Before the Revolution, in the days of the cadets, every man was supposed to be able to dance. Now dancing has become a popular hobby again, proof of this is the abundance of dance projects on television. I participated in three seasons of Dancing with the Stars - both as a contestant and as a choreographer - and watched completely different people overcome themselves and take pride in their successes. Dancing is a great way to express emotions, and people of any gender and at any age can learn to do it.
27 years old, Instructor in self-defense and hand-to-hand combat for civilians, instructor in knife fighting on the "Tolpar" system at the Moscow center Krav Maga Global
Girls come to the Krav Maga center to become more self-confident and not be afraid to walk the streets
The reasons why girls come to something like Krav Maga can be discussed for a long time and from different positions. Martial arts have always attracted me: I grew up in the yard, played football with boys, and I was not interested in dolls. My sister and I grew up without a father, and my mother became an example of willpower and character to me. I always wanted to be strong, and I knew that I needed to rely only on myself. For nine years I was engaged in karate, but then I got an injury incompatible with performances in competitions. Later I got acquainted with the Krav Maga system, and, given my achievements in karate, I was immediately invited with the condition of becoming an instructor.
Krav Maga is an Israeli melee system that effectively combines self-defense and hand-to-hand combat. Initially, Krav Maga was trained in the Israeli army, but this system does not stand still and develops in different directions. Our organization Krav Maga Global is something like an academy: we have directions for women, men, children, the military, the armed forces. Krav Maga is not a sports system, there are no competitions and categories: we teach self-defense to anyone, regardless of age, gender and physical abilities. Everything that is forbidden in traditional sports is allowed in Krav Maga: you can hit all vulnerable parts of the body. In a real fight there are no rules, no referee, no opponent in the same weight category with you.
One of the features of Krav Maga is its ease of learning. All techniques are based on the natural reflexes of the human body; in training, we reproduce situations that are as close to reality as possible. There is a great responsibility on the instructors who teach people self-defense, we have no right to make mistakes or give false hopes. We regularly undergo advanced training, go to training camps in Israel and invite specialists. In addition, instructors are trained in related disciplines: boxing, muay thai, grappling, sambo, knife fighting, and practical shooting. Quite recently, I and a couple of colleagues from the Moscow Krav Maga Center became instructors in knife fighting.
Recently, the number of girls has increased significantly: now I train three women's groups and two more are on the way. Girls come to the Krav Maga center to become more self-confident and not afraid to walk
through the streets alone. Someone begins to study, because they have already become a victim of an attack, and someone comes to protect themselves for the future. Girls train both in general groups with men and in separate women's groups - each one chooses for herself. In our center, men treat women with respect, although in mixed groups men are sometimes afraid to work with women at full capacity.Girls, on the other hand, train without sparing themselves and each other, so for some, classes in separate women's groups may be more effective - all the more, from time to time we invite guys to work out the technique with masculine strength.
The decision to practice Krav Maga for women is a little more difficult than for men: girls are afraid that it is too hard for us, some even go to workouts like CrossFit to get ready. But the super-complexity of Krav Maga is a myth: we have an individual approach to everyone, and the load is moderate and is determined on an increasing basis. The main principle of Krav Maga is safety in everything, including health. Husbands and guys of my students often hear phrases that this is not a woman's business, but men who study with us and know the features of the Krav Maga system, on the contrary, try to bring their wife, girlfriend, mother or daughter to training.
36 years old, Art director, web designer, amateur boxer (first middle weight category)
If a person does not have problems with self-esteem, then it does not matter to him whether the girl is boxing, flies into space or designs combines
I have tried many different sports - not for sporting achievements or body shape, but as a hobby. She was engaged in dancing, swimming, dressage, kendo, wushu, but nothing seriously and for a long time. Then I read an article about girls in boxing and decided to give it a try. I liked it, got involved, prepared for a real ring, but then decided to get a new specialty, and there was no time left for big sports. During the eight years of the break, I received a second education, my favorite job, as well as twenty-five extra pounds and shortness of breath on the stairs. Recently, I realized that I really miss boxing, and returned to the same trainer with whom I worked before, but not in a group, but in individual lessons.
The relationship with the coach is going well, his approach suits me completely. I cannot judge other coaches, except perhaps by observations in fitness clubs. There it is not boxing, but physical education based on boxing: no one really cares about you, wave your hands as you want. Fun, sweat, rock your ass, but that's not it. And boxing is never boring, it’s something new every minute. Boxing is a strategy: you learn to use the resources of your body and mind correctly, and you turn features into advantages. These skills are very helpful in life, especially the ability to take a punch in every sense. After training, I crawl out of the gym, sweaty and half-dead, the sensations are great, the endorphins are overwhelming. When I exercise regularly, I am in my best shape. In the first two months after returning to boxing, 8 kilograms and 8 centimeters in volume went away, and this without diets and food restrictions. But most importantly, boxing adds confidence, perfectly molds character and position.
Women in boxing, unfortunately, are not quite a familiar phenomenon, but gradually everything is changing for the better. Nobody looks askance anymore - and that's good. In general, few people are ready to tell a boxer in the face that she
not right - bold units! Joking aside, negative attitudes tend to be found in people who are very far from sports. For some men, for a sense of their own usefulness, it is necessary that the woman be pregnant in the kitchen. And if a person does not have problems with self-esteem, then it does not matter to him whether the girl is boxing, flies into space or designs combines - this does not infringe on him.
In my opinion, girls are engaged in boxing more purposefully, focused, stubborn and merciless. Men often go to the gym to hang out, show off, so that later they get into poses, and the girls give their best and take the matter seriously. Familiar coaches see this pattern in boxing, rugby, and American football: girls are fighters, which men still need to look for. In a physical sense, training is not affected by gender, but by individual characteristics. On critical days, it is more difficult for me personally: I give up the burdens, concentrate on technique and working out details.But men also feel unwell, and not only once a month. Strength indicators are also individual. In boxing, blunt power is not the main thing - a lot is decided by technique and character.
Photos and videos:
The editors would like to thank the studio PHOTOPLAY for help in organizing the shooting.