They say that behind every great man, there's an even greater woman, but does this saying ring true when it comes to fitness, strength and training?
Absolutely, suggests Alexa Towersey, one of Australia's most sought after PT's and the woman behind some of Australia's strongest men. In fact according to the Gym Jones certified trainer, men can see even greater results when training with a female coach, especially one as well versed and educated as herself.
"In my experience, men tend to shy away from some of the more basic yet most important aspects of training," says Towersey.
Alexa's philosophy isn't just biased opinion either, with backing from some rather solid scientific findings from across the globe. Providing an unlikely source of data, a study of this year’s Super Bowl has highlighted the fact that women do in fact have a greater attention to detail, essential for coaching athletes of all levels. According to Forbes, women were 27 per cent more likely to hold their focus on the play, based on this year’s game viewing figures.
Whilst seemingly trivial statistics, they go a long way to highlighting women’s ability to focus their attention on the task at hand, particularly in a stereotypically male-focused arena such as training and the gym, smashing common gender stereotypes. It's this attention to her craft that has defined Towersey's career, and her approach is definitely appreciated by her male clients, ranging from TV stars to NRL greats.
"I love the fact that in the sessions [Alexa] is happy to substitute weight for form in order to reduce the risk of injury. Most bloke sessions just want to lift as heavy as they can and most don't care about form," says former Men's Health cover man Lee Carseldine. "In general, I kinda (sic) like getting smashed by [Alexa]!"
Mark Beretta, sports reporter on Channel 7's Sunrise, agrees. "I've always found that training with a female coach teaches better technique and form which helps avoid injuries," he says. "Female trainers tend to have a better eye for spotting technique that's not quite right. They tend to emphasise good form and are very good at explaining it."
Alexa and her fellow female trainers may have greater attention to detail than their male counterparts, but they also possess a gender specific memory trait allowing them to track their clients progress and needs. A new Norwegian study suggests has found that men are more forgetful than women, regardless of their age, and it comes down to their areas of focus. Published in BMC Psychology, the team of researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology studied over 35000 men and woman to identify where attention and memory was dedicated.
Based on the results of the study, it seems that most men won't commit serious attention to anything other than sex, food, finances and sleep, an evolutionary trait that Towersey has clearly identified when approaching her coaching.
"At the most basic level, and this goes right back to the caveman era, men will always strive to impress the opposite sex in anything they do, and training is no exception," she says. "Thus it makes sense that in the presence of a female coach, the ego (as opposed to common sense) will drive the session to some extent - weights are heavier, cardio is harder and form tends to fall by the wayside. I think this is where female coaches can do their best work."
"Most people prefer to go the gym to work on their strengths. It's far more enjoyable. Few people are disciplined enough to spend time on their weaknesses, on being uncomfortable. In terms of difficulty, I can guarantee (for the most part) that men will struggle far more (both physically and psychologically) with a mobility or stretch based session, than they will with a vomit inducing workout."