Women’s Weightlifting Club secures fitness center hours

Annika Bahnsen, Sports Editor

Last year, I wrote an article about the gym culture here at Westmont. From that article, we learned that the women at Westmont do not necessarily feel the most comfortable in the fitness center due to the male-dominated environment. In response to these issues, third-years Sarah Duff and Audrey Brown have taken matters into their own hands and created the “Women’s Weightlifting Club.”

“There is a general culture around campus that there is apprehension around the fitness center because it tends to be a male-dominated area,” Duff mentioned, “It is, in general, intimidating to begin weightlifting or working out for the first time but it is even more intimidating when it is in an environment where it is basically only men.”

Stated by Duff, this club has one focus: “to create a community of women committed to building themselves and each other up by pursuing wellness not because they feel like they have to, but because they want to.”

With this mission statement in mind, the two women have sought to create change here on campus through their club. The club meets twice a week, after regular fitness center hours, with only women allowed. The women-only hours have been a priority of the leaders from the beginning and they hope to expand these hours in the future, outside of the club. 

When asked about this decision to pursue women-only hours, Brown said, “Working out for a lot of people is when we feel most vulnerable, and especially when we start out it is really easy to feel uncomfortable and judged. So many women I talked to were so excited about the idea of women-only hours, so I knew it was something I really wanted to advocate for. Luckily we found that just everybody we talked to was not only on board but excited about making women-only hours happen.”

Other than the specific hours, the club seeks to find a community of wellness in the women around campus. The club instituted a “buddy system” where women can find a partner to go to the gym with during regular hours. This creates more of a desire to go to the gym because you have someone to not only keep you accountable, but also to feel more comfortable in the fitness center. 

The club has found great success in the first few weeks of its opening, having over 40 women attend on the first day alone. I personally attended this meeting, and the energy was electrifying as women from all walks of their college careers pursued wellness in the fitness center, just like Duff and Brown had hoped for. 

Although this club is a wonderful alternative to the male-dominated environment, it begs the question: what can we do as a Westmont community to promote safety in the fitness center during regular hours? Even though women-only hours are a great solution, how can we fix the issues that led to this in the first place? These are questions I hope administrators can recognize are problems that we need to address. 

We are excited to see where this club goes in the future and if you want to join, the club meets on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:15 to 10:15 pm in the fitness center. 

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