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Everything but the weights

| Friday, April 30, 2021

On March 18, I woke up to a massive controversy blowing up social media, courtesy of the NCAA. WNBA player, Sedona Prince, posted a TikTok video of the women’s weight room for the March Madness season. As I’m sure you know, if you’ve read the many articles that involve this mess, the weight room was an utter joke. Compared to the men’s weight room, the women’s weight room was simply child’s play, with nothing more than a few yoga mats and a small weight rack with weights probably no heavier than 20 to 30 pounds.

While I’m not going to beat a dead horse about this issue, as at this point it’s definitely old news, I wanted to point out that this problem might be a little closer to home than you think.

I’m a weight lifter. I appreciate a good workout with a nice set of weights in my hands and some good tunes to listen to. However, sometimes the gym at Saint Mary’s, the Angela Fitness Center, can get in the way of a good workout. As most of us definitely know, Saint Mary’s is an all-girls school with core values of learning, community, faith and justice. All of which are tended to, accordingly, in an engaging way. However, I am disappointed with our gym equipment. A few years ago, Angela was renovated with beautiful new floors and new cardio equipment — believe me when I say there is certainly no shortage of cardio equipment. I am grateful and extremely fortunate to be able to work out in such a newly renovated space; however, when I began to take weight lifting seriously, I noticed that the weights were subpar.

I have been in a variety of gyms, from Purdue’s RecWell, with floors upon floors full of weights, to World Gym with men and women lifting the same amount, even women lifting more than the men. So why should an all-women’s school be any different?

If we have enough money to provide an ice rink for our students, why are our weights rusty, dirty and, quite frankly, disgusting? I remember the first time I went to work out in Angela, there was a dumbbell that was broken in half. The top of it was removed from the handle — it had literally rusted off. I was disappointed, to say the least.

I’ve spoken with my roommate, an even more avid weight lifter than myself, and she feels the Saint Mary’s gym is very “woman-centered,” rather, stacked with cardio equipment — because that’s what women apparently want, according to who, I’m not exactly sure — and limited weight options, similar to the weight room the NCAA gave WNBA players. Of course, not every option is bad, Angela does have a new squat rack and some new kettlebells, but the other squat racks fall into the same category as the rusty dumbbells.

On top of the weights, the mats Angela provides are ripped on both sides, making it almost impossible to leave the gym without pieces of blue foam stuck to your legs. I might even despise the mats more than the weights because I’ve seen more girls use the mats than anything else in the gym, whether it be for weightlifting, ab workouts or stretching.

I think it is time that smicks demand a change. My roommate and I are tired of succumbing to societal standards of female exercise consisting of cardio, yoga and floor work and are ready to have weights that suit our needs. While most of us are not NCAA athletes, we should still be able to effectively take care of our bodies and relieve our stress in a way that works for us. Lifting weights can be crucial to women’s health and should not be treated as a side dish to cardio, especially at a school that encourages women to be their best selves. We can do better to encourage health and weightlifting for all women because we are strong and capable, too.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Lexi Kilcoin

Lexi is an aspiring journalist studying Creative Writing and Religious Studies at Saint Mary's College. She loves all things The Office and is sure to start a conversation with anyone she meets.

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