Remaining at a steady state renders impossible the ability to advance and grow stronger, in either body or career.

By Julie Zhou (Growthmaster, Hipmunk)

Do you spend your time at the gym on cardio machines? Stop right now and get into the weight room. Push yourself, get stronger and don’t bat an eye at the skewed gender ratio.

Here’s my story – in November of 2011, I decided to leave Google and join a tiny startup. The immediate thoughts that went through my head were the same that my parents and friends would repeatedly voice: “Doesn’t everyone think Google is the best company in the world? Isn’t it safe? Why would you do something so risky?”

After a year working at a startup, I walked away from the cardio machines at my gym and into the squat cage and never looked back. The reactions to my new weightlifting program were remarkably similar to my decision to join a startup: “Isn’t it dangerous? That’s not natural.” And most prominent – “Isn’t the weight room just for guys?”

The realization hit home the day I lifted over one and a half times my body’s weight in iron off the ground – and euphoria flooded into every cell of my body – I never knew I was capable of this! Working as a lady in a tech startup has filled me with the same euphoric certainty that I have broadened my skill set, improved my adaptability to change and become a better person overall.

Staying At A Large Company Was Like Putting In Your Hours On The Treadmill.

A steady state job and a steady state workout are both safe, comfortable and normal. No parents or friends will express concern that anything you’re doing is irrational or dangerous. Put in your 40 (or 50, 60, 70) hours per week for a steady paycheck. Put in your 60 minutes on the treadmill, perhaps while reading a magazine, watching your favorite TV program or even reading this article on the gym-provided iPad.

Remaining at a steady state renders impossible the ability to advance and grow stronger, in either body or career.

But what do you get from a steady state career beyond maintaining your lifestyle? What do you get from a steady state workout beyond absolute number of calories burned? How much have you pushed your limits? How much have you grown as a person?

Not much – according to Julie Fredrickson, powerlifter and CEO of playAPI: “As a lifter and an entrepreneur, you have more control over your world as the investment return on your time is better for both. In both cases, you’re building value for your life that extends beyond the time you spent in the office or the gym.”

Just as a muscle grows stronger through consistent application of increasing stress – leaving my stable, well-paying job exposed me to challenges that I never could have imagined!

The world doesn’t always embrace this type of ambition with open arms, as many women know all too well. Whenever we step into areas that redefine our previous boundaries, the world has responded with skepticism. We will continue to have upward challenges, whether we’re going through the trials of raising funds for our first company or the DOMS from working muscles that we never knew we had – but we will savor the freedom and responsibility of charting our own paths.

Lift heavy, power on – and become more than you are now.

Interested in learning how to lifting? If you’ve ever laid hands on a barbell, I highly recommend the Starting Strength program. If you are a complete beginner, try New Rules of Lifting for Women.

Image courtesy of CherryPoint on Flickr.

About the guest blogger: Julie Zhou is the Growthmaster at Hipmunk, a travel site taking the agony out of hotel and flight search that Forbes has called “the best travel site in the world”. Before Hipmunk, Julie worked at Google, marketing products like AdWords, Google Maps and Android. In her free time, she enjoys finding her next exotic travel destination and working up to deadlifting twice her body’s weight. Follow her on Twitter at @jyzhou.

Women 2.0 readers: Do you push yourself in the gym (ie. weight room, strength training, training for marathons) like you do in your career?