McMaster Pulse's introductory women's weightlifting program is a hit

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Exploring the impact of the Women on Weights program offered by the Pulse Fitness Centre  

Time constraints. Fear of injuries. Lack of gym knowledge. Looking silly. These are some concerns addressed by trainers through the Women on Weights program offered at the Pulse Fitness Centre.   

This six-week program covers various resistance training techniques as well as gym etiquette, aerobic training, nutrition, the importance of exercise and the body. Taught by certified trainers, the program provides fundamental knowledge and skills to enhance participants’ confidence and comfort at the gym.  

“When I was starting out by myself, I would have never gone into the gym alone because of that intimidation factor – being in a male-dominated area [or] being surrounded by a lot of machines that you have no idea how to use. The purpose of this program is to engage and teach women of all ages and abilities the importance of exercise,” explained Elizabeth Lang, trainer and life sciences student.  

The purpose of this program is to engage and teach women of all ages and abilities the importance of exercise

Elizabeth Lang, Women on Weights program trainer and Life Sciences student

The Pulse was set to offer three Women on Weights classes in the fall semester with ten participants in each class. However, due to popular demand and a growing waitlist, the program was expanded to five classes.  

To ease participants into the gym setting, the Women on Weights program is designed to progress in difficulty and slowly introduce participants to new weightlifting movements and machines. Having taught this program twice, Meghan Kostashuk has started to notice similar trends in participants.  

“In the first week, a lot of the girls are very shy [or] anxious and have never been in a gym environment or haven’t been in a gym environment since high school. By the time the sixth class rolls around, all the girls are doing movements that they would never ever do, like deadlifting, squatting with a barbell, bench-pressing,” said Kostashuk, trainer and a biochemistry student.  

The consistency and length of the program allows learners to develop practical skills in a short time frame. Both Lang and Kostashuk described the appreciation that participants have expressed for the program. For instance, past participants have often expressed more personal comfort in open-concept areas after learning how to use the machines in the gym.  

“I was worried that I would injure myself or just look kind of silly because I didn’t know what was going on. There’s a lot of information online but sometimes it can be overwhelming . . . I definitely got a lot more confident in myself and my ability to go to the gym alone,” explained Celina Ruan, a past participant of the Women on Weights program.  

The program provides participants with a wealth of information while also giving them an opportunity to make new friends and accountability partners through the classes. Once the six-weeks of Women on Weights comes to an end, trainers will often encounter past participants exercising together at the gym.   

“I think there’s definitely been a really big impact on the girls. I still see some of the girls around the gym all the time and they’ll always come up to me and be like “I’ve been going to the gym with so and so from our class, we’ve become gym buddies and we go together all the time and we hold each other accountable,” and that’s such a nice thing to see,” said Kostashuk. 

In addition to the Women on Weights program, Kostashuk teaches an introductory lifting program in partnership with the McMaster University biochemistry and biomedical sciences society. Moving forward, Kostashuk hopes to open a similar program for students of all gender identities and programs.  

“With clients I’ve always tried to instill the idea in them that no matter how much weight you’re lifting, no matter how new to an exercise you are, no matter how new you are to the gym, there’s always a space for you,” said Kostashuk.  

With clients I’ve always tried to instill the idea in them that no matter how much weight you’re lifting, no matter how new to an exercise you are, no matter how new you are to the gym, there’s always a space for you

Meghan Kostashuk, Women on Weights program teacher

McMaster students and David Braley Athletic Centre members can participate in programs for a reduced price. The Women on Weights program will also be offered in the upcoming winter semester. To learn more about the program and other classes offered by The Pulse, visit their website.   

Author

  • Jenny Zhao

    Jenny is in her second year of the Biochemistry program. As a first-time writer for the Sil, she is excited to share the latest sports stories with all students. In her free time, you can find her working on a burner photography account, eating something spicy, or playing intramural sports.

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