Noticing that you are the only woman in the weight room at a gym can be intimidating. According to Women’s Health Magazine, one in three women feel out of place in a gym setting. Enter Girl Gains, a student organization that promotes female weightlifting and empowerment in fitness.
Girls Gains was originally created at San Diego State University by then-undergraduate Elizabeth Bradley in 2020 for women with a passion for fitness. Since then, the club gained over 10,000 followers on social media and has opened up 83 chapters across the country, including one on the Hilltop. USF’s chapter was founded in August 2022 by Mia Dawes, who graduated with a marketing degree last semester, and is open to women with a drive for fitness looking for a judgment-free space.
Girl Gains USF has planned multiple events such as boxing class events, lifting buddy group socials, meetings with professional nutritionists, and group sessions with a personal trainer at Koret Health Center.
Lifting buddy group socials are used for new and recurring members of Girl Gains to find a gym partner to motivate each other and lift each other up through those tough workouts. Recently, Girl Gains USF partnered with Rumble Boxing Group Fitness to do a social event at the studio location in Cow Hollow.
Zuri Vera Nunez, a fourth-year psychology major and co-marketing director of Girl Gains, said she grew up as a competitive dancer and faced scrutiny over her body type. “The industry promotes unhealthy body size expectations and is predominantly white. As someone who identifies as Latina and has a curvy body type, I was never able to deeply appreciate my body,” she said.
Her journey with weightlifting started in 2021, when she was unable to participate in dance during the pandemic, but she still felt insecure about herself at the gym. “I was afraid of asking anyone how to use a machine… I was afraid of how people would perceive me,” she said. Nunez joined Girl Gains in 2022 and immediately found her place. “I felt both empowered in myself and hopeful about building a community of women to process the barriers that we face collectively,” she said. “Everytime I hit a new personal record, I felt empowered, uplifted, limitless.”
Amrit Kaur, a senior marketing major and member of Girl Gains, goes to Crunch Daly City, where she self-taught her workout routine, slowly easing into the routine until she was most comfortable. “It was definitely gym growing pains. There were days that I didn’t even want to be in the weight room, because I was the only girl, and I felt as if I didn’t belong, when really, there shouldn’t be a reason to feel like that,” she said.
She said Girl Gains events, like a group weightlifting workout that focused on proper and safe form, inspired her to join the group. “It was an empowering experience and I liked working out with all the girls. They spoke about their experience in the gym, and it was just nice to hear that I wasn’t the only one feeling alone.”
The weightroom could seem very daunting if you are going about it alone, so the members of Girl Gains are there to help and support you every step of the way. As Nunez said, “[Girl Gains] gets it – they understand the feelings and thoughts of being in the weight room, but I think because of that, we don’t judge anyone, we welcome everyone to our indoor and outdoor events, and make sure to support all your goals.”
To join or support Girl Gains and their events, follow their Instagram account @girlgainsusfca.