Women in Weightlifting: Girl Gains promotes female empowerment, body positivity

Members of Women in Weightlifting recruit new members at Late Night. Photo courtesy of Women in Weightlifting.

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

After being chartered just a few weeks ago, Women in Weightlifting: Girl Gains at Baylor is pursuing its mission to promote female weightlifting and empower women.

Bryant, Ark., sophomore Lucille Van Roekel, president of Women in Weightlifting, said she started the chapter in March 2021 and recruited the rest of the executive members this summer.

“Our mission is just to empower women and get them in the weight room because sometimes it can be really intimidating with the amount of men that can be in there,” Roekel said. “We also just like to form a community to encourage women to get into weightlifting … But then we also want to be here for the women that have already been in a weightlifting room and just give them that sense of community.”

Women in Weightlifting is a chapter of Girl Gains — a national collegiate organization founded in 2020 at San Diego State University for all fitness levels. Both the national organization and the Baylor chapter have four core values: knowledge, strength, body positivity and community. Roekel said body positivity is also referred to as body neutrality.

“We don’t want you to think of it as like going to the gym to make your body look better, but in a way that you’re going to the gym to love your body, not because you hate it,” Roekel said. “We believe that every woman deserves to accept and love their body no matter where they are in their fitness journey.”

Houston sophomore Samantha Hernandez said that she enjoys weightlifting and that it’s important for exercise for health reasons.

“I’d say that [weightlifting] really does bring out a different type of mental strain and a lot of durability, you know, within one’s health and having to look after yourself,” Hernandez said.

Women in Weightlifting has biweekly meetings, with events scheduled on the weeks without meetings. There are no required dues or attendance. Currently, the club has 40 active members, Roekel said.

“Meetings can range from guest speakers or just getting together and socializing and just, like I said, forming that community,” Roekel said. “Events can be … going to Mamaka Bowls, making protein pancakes, or they can be things like having a women’s weightlifting night.”

Hernandez said that she thinks Women in Weightlifting is amazing and that she is interested in joining in the near future.

“I think women are sometimes seen as weak or even not able to lift more than five pounds [by society],” Hernandez said. “So being able to have a club where women are able to compete with one another or even just demonstrate their strength and durability is a way to go, so I can’t wait to show that potential for myself.”