An overcrowded weight room can be an overwhelming experience for new lifters, according to Margaret Ives, ’20. Students may feel out of place at the gym, worried that others will judge their workouts or inexperience. For students seeking a supportive environment to learn new exercises and fitness techniques, the Women’s Lifting Club provides a welcoming environment for new members.
“It’s zero pressure, anybody at all levels are welcome,” Ives said. “We have ways to make exercises more difficult for people who want to challenge themselves, we have ways to make things less difficult if you’re struggling with something, so … if you have free time, if you have a pair of sneakers, and you want to come sweat, then swing by.”
Ives, along with Taylor Marzouca, ’20, and Amanda DiLoreto, ’20, started the club on Sunday, Sept. 14, with the hopes of using their workout knowledge and experience to help more Allegheny women get involved with weightlifting. The three students said the gym can be an intimidating place especially to newcomers, and hope to create an environment that is enjoyable enough to result in growing membership of the club throughout the year.
“For anybody who is hesitant or doesn’t know what to expect, the main atmosphere that we’re trying to (create) is this area where we all can be together and support each other, (with) no judgement of what level everybody’s at,” Marzouca said. “It’s mainly for supporting one another.”
According to the club’s Instagram page, allegheny_wlc, workouts take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays on one of the four Wise Center blue courts. For students who are not comfortable starting out alongside other student-athlete groups in the weight room, the club will have its own space in the gym reserved for each meeting.
The club, although a few pieces of paperwork away from being officially recognized by Allegheny Student Government, has started meeting for workouts and has a growing social media following. The group expects roughly 10 to 12 members to show up for the first few meetings, and their Instagram page has amassed 269 followers as of Sept. 24.
Posted workouts have thus far focused on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for the upper and lower body, legs and abdomen. The club also plans to help members utilize the equipment in the new weight room in the Wise Center once construction is complete, according to Marzouca. While the workouts may be unfamiliar to some, Marzouca, Ives and DiLoreto will each act as mentors to those who are simultaneously exercising and learning new exercises.
Ives said the only things that new members will need to bring are water, workout attire and a positive, nonjudgmental attitude. The club will focus on aspects of fitness other than exercise by sharing healthy meal planning tips and promoting mental well-being.
“We want to help our members for multiple aspects of fitness, not only structuring weightlifting routines, but also just learning about healthy recipes (for meals),” DiLoreto said. “We’re posting recipes on our Instagram, and we’re going to put different tips and people we follow, so (there are) a lot of different aspects (to the club) other than just the classes.”
Along with improving exercise and nutrition, working out can alleviate stress, elevate mood and increase energy levels. With these positive outcomes, the Women’s Lifting Club could be extremely beneficial as midterms approach and throughout the rest of the semester, according to Ives.
“I know for me, I use the gym to destress, and it’s kind of like my self-care aspect of my routine, so if we could help other people in that regard, that would be great,” Ives said.
While the club’s founders would like to see increased membership and involvement in the future, there have already been moments of success during its first week. Attendance has steadily improved and Allegheny faculty, including Associate Professor of Chemistry Ivelitza Garcia, have even joined workouts.
Marzouca, Ives and DiLoreto said they will consider the club a success if they can inspire the next generation of Allegheny women to carry it forward after they graduate in the spring.
“Something we have to all think about is kind of mentoring at least juniors and sophomores to kind of take the club from us, so thinking like long-term continuity,” Marzouca said. “It’s kind of just more of a motive to make sure people understand what they’re doing and really just feel empowered to keep this going.”
The club is open to women of all skill levels who are interested in working out in a supportive, positive environment with other women, according to the club. The allegheny_wlc Instagram account will have the dates and times of workouts, along with other fitness tips. The club’s next workouts will be at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, and noon Sunday, Sept. 29, on the Wise Center blue courts.