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Brianna Morgenstern and Madeline Crosby, executive members of the Womxn's Empowerment Training club, stand for a portrait in the Charles J. Ping Recreation Center, Oct. 5, 2023, in Athens, Ohio.

Womxn’s Empowerment Training puts the 'lift' back in uplifting

One of Ohio University’s many student amenities is the free gym access at Ping Center. While the building is replete with treadmills, weight rooms, a running track and even a 36-foot-tall climbing wall, there has been a noticeable shortage of female and female-presenting patrons, according to the vice president of the new Womxn’s Empowerment Training group, Brianna Morgenstern. This group is set on resolving the lack of womxn weightlifters by creating a safe space for everyone to come together on their fitness journeys. 

The gym can sometimes be intimidating for womxn – people who identify as women and nonbinary or gender non-conforming individuals who feel represented with that term – with 75% of womxn stating they have been made to feel uncomfortable in gyms, according to Glasgow Standard.

Morgenstern, a junior studying political science, has been going to Ping for approximately three years. She said she wanted to build off her own experience at the gym to create an environment that seemed more welcoming.

“We decided to put the group together, and we talked about what we wanted when we started off and tried to form a group based on what we wish we had,” Morgenstern said.

Madeline Crosby, a junior studying psychology and pre-physical therapy, is the group’s creative director and treasurer. She and a friend started going to the gym together when they realized they both were scared to go alone and eventually decided to expand their gym buddy system. 

Crosby said one of her favorite parts of the club is making new connections with people.

“I love meeting people that I see myself in,” said Crosby, “I see these girls and I can just relate to them so much and it makes me want to help so much more.” 

The workouts are created and provided by Morgenstern, who enjoys utilizing them herself. 

One of the group's members is Sophia Grubb, a junior studying child and family studies. 

“If you’re not familiar with the gym, it’s a good organization to be a part of because they give out workouts, and you can ask them questions,” Grubb said.

Additionally, Grubb said the club makes it more comfortable to go to the gym. 

“The gym is uncomfortable sometimes, so it’s good to have a familiar face to see when working out,” she said.

Morgenstern shares this sentiment, with friendships being her favorite part of the club so far. 

“I like the friendships, I like seeing the girls on campus because I’ve seen a few, and we always say, 'Hi','” she said.

The group began with three meetings a week and has since narrowed it down to two with a soon-to-be-implemented third optional meeting, such as a group walk or a lunch, according to Crosby. 

Morgenstern said there are plans to do more regarding having some sort of attendance option. Although she does not want it to seem like work for the participants, there may be some sort of checking-in policy such as a sticker chart.

“For the girls who show up the most and are more dedicated, we want to give them something,” said Morgenstern.  

Even though the group only began at the start of this fall semester, the turnout has been an overwhelming success. The first few meetings consisted of nearly 30 members and the group’s table at the Involvement Fair had a long line of interested womxn. 

“It was cool to see that because I didn’t expect so many people would be like, ‘Yeah, I wanted to go to Ping but I’m too scared,’” said Crosby. “It’s such a common thing.”

Morgenstern’s advice for prospective members was to let the club serve them. 

“It’s tailored to be a very individually-oriented club. It’s made so that you can take it in whichever direction you want,” she said. “If you are a bodybuilder and you just need someone to be there with you to help you get better, or if you’ve never been to the gym before … we wanted to make it so you can take it however you want.” 

All the information to join Womxn’s Empowerment Training, or WET Lifting Group is available on BobcatConnect as well as the organization’s Instagram. The group offers an uplifting place for womxn and others to support one another on their journeys through mental and physical health, an experience that no one should have to go through alone. 


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