October 20, 2015 This letter is in response to the article printed in the “Statesman” under “Lake Voice News” titled “Yeah, bro. UMD girls lift too.” As the RSOP Fitness and Wellness Coordinator, I would like to take the opportunity to address some concerns highlighted in the article.
As a female, I have worked as a fitness professional for the past 21 years, both in university and private facilities. I can attest to the fact that some, not all, women do in fact find weight rooms to be intimidating. I can also attest to the fact that some, not all, men find yoga studios and group fitness studios to be intimidating. Several academic recreational journals and publications have found these issues to be present on campuses around the country. UMD is not unique.
The professional and student staff here in RSOP recognize this and have worked hard the past few years to make our facilities and programming friendly to all. Last year, we held “Women Love Weights” events on Wednesday evenings. This was advertised and promoted around campus and on social media. We also hosted an event called “Yoga for Athletes” in an effort to attract more men to our group fitness programs. In addition, my student fitness staff currently consists of 14 women and five men. Women are well represented.
Last year we worked diligently alongside our weight room sales and design representative from LifeFitness to strategically arrange our facility to better accommodate the needs of women. For instance, we placed our adductor and abductor (inner and outer thigh) machines facing the windows so women would feel more comfortable. The color scheme of the new machines was also chosen with women in mind. We offer a variety of strength equipment in our small side studio where many women lift the same weights they would otherwise use in the larger weight room. In addition, our group fitness program offers several very popular classes with a strength training emphasis.
As a female, I do have some suggestions for other females who are interested in using the weight room but have reservations.
- The majority of male students who use our weight room are friendly, helpful and want you to be there. Don’t sell them short.
- Ask questions. We have several operations staff and personal trainers who can help.
- Enroll in a strength training course for academic credit.
- Participate in our group fitness program to gain skills and knowledge that will transfer to the larger weight room.
The work we do here in RSOP is very important, as is our goal to offer inclusive programs. Approximately 1,200 people enter and use our facility daily and we are proud to be an important part of campus life. Our weight room is just an example of the many environments that offer learning opportunities for college students here on campus. We work very hard to make RSOP a great place for all our users and greatly appreciate the opportunity to bring awareness to all of the exciting things we have to offer. Trista Vucetich Anderson, MA