A newly founded club, Girl Gains, is promoting female weightlifting and ending the stigma of a male-dominated weightroom, said Girl Gains President Sarah Gremelsbacker, a sophomore.
The club gained official recognition on March 15 and now has 135 members and an Instagram following of over 500 people, Gremelsbacker said.
Girl Gains is a national organization that aims to increase women’s presence in the weight room and has chapters at universities across the country, Gremelsbacker said.
“They’re growing really fast now,” Gremelsbacker said. “They’re making chapters at all different schools and universities, which is really, really cool. We’re just kind of becoming one really big community, which is awesome.”
The UVM chapter got its start after Gremelsbacker attended an informational Zoom session.
Despite the name, the club is not limited to just women, said Girl Gains Vice President Sasha Danilov, a sophomore.
“We want to be a space for all identities that just need some help getting comfortable in the gym,” they said.
They want to make sure women, nonbinary and transgender people feel comfortable inside a gym, Gremelsbacker said.
“We want this stigma of a male dominated weightroom to completely disappear,” she said. “So many people are like, ‘Sarah, take me to the gym. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m scared to go by myself.’”
Danilov started lifting because of Gremelsbacker, and it helped them lose their fear of the gym, they said.
“When I had someone who could teach me and thoroughly tell me what I’m doing, it was really reassuring,” Danilov said. “I think once I had that knowledge, now I could go by myself.”
The club aims to erase the stigma associated with gyms through a buddy pairing system, said sophomore Ally Wheeler, Girl Gains vice president and social media manager.
“We paired different group members who have the same habits in the gym, the same workouts they like to do, or the same times, which is really fun,” Wheeler said.
New members can fill out a Google Form that asks questions about their weightlifting experience, how often they lift and their goals, so they can match up with someone that has similar ideas about lifting, Gremelsbacker said.
The club meets monthly and hosts events, such as a stretching and foam rolling session with exercise science professor Kathryn Vreeland before spring break, Gremelsbacker said.
The club wants to rent out the UVM weightroom, Gremelsbacker said.
“Our main goal is to be able to get weightroom space and teach people how to lift, but it’s a tricky situation because the weightroom is always so packed,” she said.
The club is working with the club sports director and the head of campus recreation to get weightroom space after-hours Wednesday evenings, she said.
Girl Gains focuses on weightlifting, but does not limit to this excercise. The club hopes to collaborate with the running and powerlifting club, Gremelsbacker said.
The Girl Gains Instagram page @girlgainsuvm has links to a member interest form and their GroupMe, Gremelsbacker said.