Students and Faculty Tackle Project of Disrupting Gender Norms in the Weight Room

Anyone who has been in any gym before knows that it can be a very gendered space. From what I’ve noticed,  people who identify as women or non-binary tend to stick with the cardio machines and core exercise areas, while men often dominate the weight room. I’m not trying to start a discussion on why this is the case or assign blame, but after seeing enough of my female friends fear the weight room, I felt inspired to try to make a change.

Photo by Daniel Sarché
Photo by Celia Herdic

Strength training is not just about being absurdly muscular or lifting insane amounts of weights. Rather, strength training is important for all people, as it is essential for peak body performance. In countless studies, strength training has been shown to increase metabolism, develop better body mobility, boost energy levels, maintain bone density, and increase muscle mass, acording to Needless to say, everyone should not only have access to adequate strength equipment, but they should also feel comfortable using it.   

I recently started working with Assistant Director of Recreation Melanie Alexander at the Adam F. Press Fitness Center, and Alessandra Ahlmen ’21, a fellow Colorado College student who is passionate about strength training and inclusivity, to tackle the problem of the intimidating weight room. We believe that a combination of not knowing how to properly use the equipment in the weight room and the presence of other experienced lifters leads to the hesitancy for beginner lifters.

Our mission is to lay the groundwork to make novice lifters comfortable in the weight room through equipment orientations and potential bi-weekly strength classes. This program is currently in the early stages of development, so not much can be said about the specifics. Still, it is something that we are really excited to put into motion. Through this program, we hope to foster enough confidence in beginners so they’ll be willing to head down to the weight room on their own, initiating the transformation of the weight room from a male-dominated space to a more gender-neutral space.

Our intention is to have the weight room reserved once a block for two hours. The hope is that experienced lifters would go to the varsity weight room during that time so the beginners can familiarize themselves with the empty weight room. This club will be open to all people of all gender identities, not specifically females. Ideally, it will coincide with Women’s Wednesdays in the Ritt Kellogg Climbing Gym (4–6 p.m.). If this club has enough attendance the first few sessions, Ahlmen and I will start holding bi-weekly workout sessions in the gym while it’s reserved. This weight training program focused on inclusivity will begin in full force early next year, so keep an eye out if this interests you. ­­­­

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