A Female-Only Strength and Conditioning Class at GHS?

by Jake Fontaine

Since we came out of the womb, gender stereotypes have followed us around like we are the Kardashians and these prejudices are the paparazzi looking for their next cover story. One of these stereotypes includes the impression that men are designated to do the heavy lifting, while women are left to sit and watch.

Grandville says no more.

Tully Chapman, a strength and fitness coach as well as the fitness center manager here at GHS, is considering the incorporation of an all-female Strength and Conditioning class at Grandville to cater to all girls and ultimately boost female participation within the weightroom.

“It’s important that females understand that they are not ‘delicate flowers,’ but instead can be strong, powerful, bold women,” explains Chapman. “The purpose of a female-only training group would be to create an environment that is more friendly to students who are not currently participating in a training program.”

Chapman recently sent out a survey regarding the construction of an all-female lifting class, which had 256 responses. Of these students, 41 of them wrote additional comments at the end of the survey, with a majority of these comments along the lines of “feeling more comfortable if male athletes were not present.”

Despite the survey’s positive intentions, there was some backlash from a few students, claiming the class to be a setback in the movement for gender equality; however, Mrs. Peterson, one of the Women’s Leadership Club advisors and a strong adherent for the empowerment of women, thinks otherwise:

“If it was the only [Strength and Conditioning] class girls could take at the school it would be offensive and a setback, but if it’s another option to promote health and fitness among women, I think it’s awesome,” Peterson contends. “As teacher of girls, a mother of girls, and a girl myself, I know lifting with boys can be intimidating, so an all-girl atmosphere would be a great way to encourage more women to be healthy.”

Female teachers around the school give the potential class similar praise.

Mrs. Ungrey, a science teacher who frequently works out at Fit Body Boot Camp, thinks an all- female lifting class would “be great and definitely make girls more likely to sign up.” Mrs. Swanson, a Spanish teacher and another goer of Fit Body Boot Camp, would “take it if [she] was in high school” and believes the class to be “a great way to ultimately make the entire school stronger.”

Of course, not all females at the school prefer to solely lift with other girls.

Sierra Hamil, a senior at GHS who is currently in the PEAK Strength and Conditioning class, feels an extra driving force when she’s surrounded by boys in the weightroom.

“Lifting with guys really pushes me,” Hamil admits. “When I see all the weight they have on the bar, I get a burst of motivation to put more weight on mine.”

There’s also students like Jadyn Boogaard, a junior who is currently not taking a Strength and Conditioning class at GHS, that would be more inclined to do so if a female-only class was offered.

“A lot of girls are scared of being judged by the guys [in the weightroom], so an all-female class would definitely enhance females’ confidence while in there,” Boogaard says.

The purpose of implementing a female-only Strength and Conditioning class is to provide a comfortable environment for all girls at GHS, not to force them into an uncomfortable environment; therefore, girls, such as Boogaard, can choose to join the female-only class if that’s what she feels most comfortable doing, and girls, such as Hamil, can join one of the co-ed classes

Also, the structure of the class would be no different from the current co-ed classes.

“The actually training would be no different from the training in our co-ed sessions,” explains Chapman. “Males and females are both humans and need to use the same training methods to improve physical health and performance.”

A female-only Strength and Conditioning class could be added as soon as Spring of 2019.

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