Sports

‘Girls Who Lift’ Seeks to Make the Gym a More Inclusive Space for Female-Identifying Students

COURTESY OF “PAGIRLSWHOLIFT”

Along with Andover Athletics’ partnership with the Trevor Project, Girls Who Lift is another example of students striving to make wholesale changes to the athletic culture on campus.

Grace Hammond ’23, Kiley Buckley ’23 and Ava Sullivan ’23 are co-founders of Girls Who Lift, a new club this fall for female-identifying students to lift weights in the weight room at Borden and Memorial Gym. The club has met twice so far, both meetings at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays at Borden Gym; about 20 students have attended each meeting. According to Hammond, the club was created out of the feeling that gyms can be an intimidating place to go into especially for beginners.

 

Sometimes, it can be really busy and scary to go to the Borden gym after school when it’s packed, and… sometimes, you can feel like people are always watching you, and people are thinking you’re doing things wrong. I think this applies to pretty much any gym — that it can just be kind of scary to go in when it feels like there [are] people that really know what they’re doing. So, we kind of just wanted to give everyone the basics and make everyone feel more comfortable,” said Hammond.

 

Sullivan says it is particularly important to encourage girls to lift as the gym is often a male-dominated space.

 

Sullivan said, “Normally, for example, when I go to Borden gym, there’s probably like 15 guys to every two girls or so, so I think at first that can be very intimidating, and I just think that weightlifting… is kind of known as sort of a guy sort of thing, and a lot of girls that do want to get into it are intimidated by that fact.”

 

Adya Chatterjee ’22, a member of the previous Girls Who Lift club, says she is happy to see that there is a new club to encourage girls students to lift.

 

This just means more girls, more time, more people being empowered. Why would I be sad about that? As a Senior, I’m so happy that even if I leave, there’s going to be a Girls Who Lift club anyways,” said Chatterjee.

 

Hammond, Buckley and Sullivan started following scheduled workout programs during the Covid-19 pandemic, and they were inspired in that period to create a group that could “embrace” the gym together.

 

Hammond said, “[Kiley, Ava and I] all sort of started working out during Covid-19, and we all had previously worked out for our sports, but we really started doing planned out workouts during Covid-19, and that was what forced us to go into it, but sometimes going to a local gym, it can be scary to do like barbell stuff, and I just wanted other girls to feel like they could take out heavyweights and be fine, and to learn techniques. I think [Ava, Kiley and I] have all experienced times when we’ve felt scared, and you kind of just have to learn it, embrace it, that kind of thing.”

 

According to Sullivan, having a community of girls with whom to go to the gym helps her be motivated to achieve goals in the gym.

 

Being able to all be there for each other and build each other up, definitely helps us, especially in a group of girls that we’re going to try to build a community a lot closer, and then once we do, we’ll all be able to go in there and support each other and help each other hit new [personal records] and just learn new things,” said Sullivan.

 

Buckley says she hopes this club will have the bigger effect of bringing a more diverse community of students into the gym.

 

Buckley said, “I think just having a good, strong group of girls that really enjoys helping other girls or helping bring confidence will be helpful for the community of the gym and just bringing a more broad community in.”