The gym closed early Tuesday evening and brought 30 women and non-binary participants together to learn about correct form, proper regressions and safe use of equipment. 

Campus Recreation and Wellness hosted “Ladies Lifting” in the Koury Athletic Center, where students worked closely with six instructors and personal trainers to educate themselves on the execution of exercises. 

The annual event is part of “Love Your Body Week,” which aims to create a safe space for all people to learn about their bodies and how they can respect and love them. SPARKS Peer Educators helped  facilitate “Love Your Body Week” alongside Campus Recreation and Wellness. 

Throughout the event, participants could attend four of six different stations led by group exercise instructors and personal trainers who attend Elon University. 

Sophomore and group exercise instructor Katie Kapp instructed the yoga station at Ladies Lifting. She stressed the importance of exercise, referencing a quote she once heard saying, “Your body does not speak English.” Kapp said the quote inspired her to teach other women about exercising. 

“You can tell it, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’ however much you want, but by physically taking care of your body and giving it that boost of endorphins, it really shows yourself that you do care about yourself and you are taking care of yourself,” Kapp said. 

For sophomore Allison Durand, the female-dominated and beginner-friendly setting of “Ladies Lifting” helped her focus on exercises and on taking care of herself. 

“I am often consumed by what I’m seeing in the mirror rather than what body part I’m actually working out, which is something I’m working on,” Durand said. “ ...It especially did not matter tonight because you could tell that we were all there for the same reasons. Everyone in the gym did not know something and that's why we all showed up tonight.”

Junior and personal trainer Nicole McGinty helped to teach students how to use TRX strap — body weight resistance bands. McGinty was originally inspired to instruct at “Ladies Lifting” because of her first experience at the gym. 

“The gym was a very intimidating place to me,” McGinty said. “I remember coming to ‘Ladies Lifting’ my freshman year and it was a very welcoming environment. I want to create that environment for other girls coming in and also give them that confidence to come into the gym on their own and learn new skills.”

For beginners such as senior Alexandra Schneider, Ginty was able to provide comfort in the beginner setting.

“It felt really encouraging and kind of exciting,” Schneider said. “I did not really know anyone when I came here, so immediately everyone was really nice and the instructors were really enthusiastic.”

Some attendees had frequented gyms before yet learned a lot from “Ladies Lifting.” Freshman Annabel Miller had a teacher at her high school help her toward success in the gym. Entering college, she said she felt intimidated without an instructor. Miller said “Ladies Lifting” helped her with the switch to working out independently at the gym. 

“I feel that it’s more of a safe space right now, especially since there’s only women,” Miller said. “I feel more comforted and I’m able to ask more questions without being embarrassed or shy.” 

Like Miller, comfort within the gym helped lessen tension for Durand. Durand credits “Ladies Lifting” for boosting her mood in the gym. 

“That was the happiest workout I’ve ever had,” Durand said. “I rarely ever leave the gym in a genuinely good mood and I’m leaving in a really good mood tonight, which is something I’m going to carry with me.”