Gains for Girls

Weightlifting club aimed at female empowerment


illustration by Hyun Park

Tara Wirtschoreck, asst. sports editor

Seniors Ellie Moen and Abby Muir noticed a problem whenever they lifted weights: they were almost always in a majority-male environment. Both wishing for a lifting environment surrounded by other girls, Moen and Muir founded Gains for Girls: a club dedicated to girls who want to lift in a more female-centered environment. Moen hopes that this club will add a much-needed female presence to the lifting community at South. 

“There are a lot of [girls] that are fearful of the [male-dominated] environment that comes with weightlifting, and we wanted to change that,” Moen said. “We wanted to start the club as a safe space for girls to come and feel welcomed and empowered.”

When Gains for Girls starts, the group plans to meet before school once a month, and after school once a week. The before-school meetings will be centered around learning about the more scientific, behind-the-scenes aspects of lifting. Club members will lift together after school, Moen said. 

“[At after-school meetings], we will set up workouts for girls to try,” Moen said. “It would be a time for girls to be encouraged to workout and then go home feeling good.”

Many girls feel uncomfortable lifting in gyms due to inappropriate comments or sexualization, Moen said. More female-centered environment will help girls feel more comfortable working out, Moen said.

“A lot of girls go to the gym to better themselves, and they get sexualized or receive [inappropriate] comments [about] their body,” Moen said. “There [have] been a lot of roadblocks [for women who want to lift], which has almost made me want to make this club even more because I know that I’m not the only one experiencing this.” 

Senior Denisse Nazare believes the stereotype around lifting is the reason she is the only girl in the current Powerlifting club at South. 

“It is sad because there are not a lot of girls,” Nazare said. “Mostly because of the stereotype that only men can lift. They are scared the boys are going to judge them.”

Despite these potential fears holding girls back, Nazare really encourages those who are interested in lifting to give it a try. 

“[There are] girls that are interested in lifting in general,” Nazare said. “I think it is important for other girls who want to do [it] and give it a try and see how it is. If it is not for them, then it is not for them. It is also important because I feel like we are in this modern world where girls are able to do more things than they were back in the day. Now we have this chance to do it.” 

Moen and Muir also felt it was important to provide a place for people with many different lifting levels to work together, Muir said. People with little experience are sometimes hesitant to start lifting without guidance or begin in a more advanced lifting group, Muir continued.

“People will ask me ‘I have never picked up a weight before, so how do I start?’” Muir said. “We want people to feel comfortable starting this hobby because a lot of people just do not know where to start.” 

Because they plan to have both beginners and more experienced lifters, there will be a wide array of experience levels in Gains for Girls, which means that there are opportunities for less experienced lifters to learn from more advanced members, Muir said. Muir hopes to see each club member improve as the year goes on. 

“I’m excited to see people’s growth as they start because so much can happen in one year [of lifting],” Muir said. 

The morning meetings would be different and less frequent than the afternoon ones, Muir said.

“The morning club meeting would look like nutrition planning and stretching and talking through the health aspects,” Moen said. “We would have guest speakers come in once a month and switch it up and we’d try out different protein bars and pre-workout.” 

Nazare believes no one should let stereotypes stop them from pursuing their goals if they are passionate enough. 

“If you are a girl and you are interested in trying to lift, you should try Gains for Girls if you want to feel [more like] yourself,” Nazare said. “Do not be intimidated by boys.”