If your New Year workout regime is not delivering the results you want, now is the perfect time to start something new by venturing into the free weights area and trying one of the hot fitness trends for 2016 - strength training.

Research from the UK's favourite low-cost gym chain The Gym has shown that women and weights are experiencing an unprecedented boom in popularity and dispelling the myth that this activity is just for men.

The annual 'Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2016', released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), has named strength training is one of the top five ways to work out this year. According to the pioneers in low-cost fitness, the weights area at The Gym, an area once traditionally shunned in gyms by female members in preference of cardio machines or studio classes, is being reclaimed by a growing contingent who are turning to weight lifting and strength training to become beautifully strong.

An overwhelming 93% of female members of The Gym incorporate resistance training, including free weights and strength equipment, as part of their regular workout routine and an impressive 65% of them lift up to three times a week. To underline its rise in popularity, just over three quarters of those questioned (76%) said they had increased their resistance training in the last 12 - 18 months.

Attitudes to weight and strength training are clearly changing thanks to a growing number of lean and strong celebrity fans including Millie Mackintosh, Lucy Mecklenburgh and Cameron Diaz, as well as female Olympic athletes like Jessica Ennis-Hill and Victoria Pendleton, who have sculpted, strong physiques without any hint of 'bulking up'.

Gym-newbies needn't fear about stepping into the free weights area as 62% of female members of The Gym confidently stated that they have never felt put off or intimidated in the gym when using weights, challenging the cliché of it being a male-dominated zone. Just under half (49%) of those questioned said free weights were their favourite piece of gym equipment, supporting the mind-set that weight training is less about building muscle and more about giving women increased confidence.

Nadia Cole, weight training expert at The Gym who also holds the title 'London's Strongest Woman 2015' explains "I've been a big advocate of strength training for a long time and actively encourage members to include this type of training as part of their routine. There are numerous benefits to working out with weights and it's fantastic to see more women working out in the free weights area and lifting with confidence."

Jim Graham, Chief Operating Officer of The Gym Group, adds "We understand the importance of removing any barriers to exercise and having listened to our members, The Gym Group has made a significant investment in its free weights area. To help members 'find their fit', we have created larger spaces that offer a light, airy and welcoming environment. As a result, our members love the new facilities and we're seeing a bigger take up, especially from female members, who want to make full use of our strength equipment and get the results they want."

Top 10 Reasons To Become Beautifully Strong

1. Increases lean muscle mass to achieve a toned, svelte physique.

2. Improves flexibility.

3. It boosts metabolism and burns fat.

4. Increases skeletal strength and reduces risk of osteoporosis.

5. Helps reduce risk of injury, back pain and arthritis.

6. Improves posture.

7. Reduces risk of heart disease.

8. Boosts confidence and mental well-being.

9. Improves balance and co-ordination.

10. It's never too late to start and strength improvements can be made at any age.

The Gym Group is currently holding trial Women & Weights sessions at selected sites including The Gym in Nottingham, Manchester and Birmingham. To find out more about becoming #beautifullystrong visit www.thegymgroup.com.

More women are lifting weights in the gym

More women are lifting weights in the gym

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk