The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

UMW Girl Gains creates a safe space in the weight room

3 min read
A group of girls sitting on a brick floor. They are all wearing matching white workout tops and black leggings.

The founders of the UMW chapter of Girl Gains work to bring confidence into the gym. @umwgirlgains /


Staff Writer

Upon entering the gym, it is common for women to feel lonely, lost or even uncomfortable in the weights section. The fitness industry, especially weight lifting, has historically been a male-dominated field. This directly impacts women who want to start their fitness journeys, but simply feel too out of place in doing so. The Girl Gains Club at UMW seeks to challenge this narrative, providing a safe space for women and people of all gender identities to gain confidence inside and outside of the weight room. 

Girl Gains is a nationwide club, formally established in 2020 at San Diego State University in California. Since then, chapters have been introduced on college campuses all over the U.S. 

The UMW chapter of the Girl Gains Club was approved in 2021 and hosted their interest meeting over Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Andrea Gallegos, a junior sociology and elementary education major, is president of the Girl Gains Club at UMW.

“Being a member means you are invited to join a family of individuals who will motivate you, love you, push you and educate you on fitness and health,” she said. “We hope to remind our members that they are loved wherever they are in their fitness journeys.” 

The club leaders aim to hold biweekly meetings in which they discuss workout planning, nutrition and the importance of fitness. Additionally, they hope to eventually introduce group workouts and hold fundraisers for the club. There are no dues, no attendance policies and no prior experience required. 

“I came across a TikTok of a girl that had created her own club at her school at [San Diego State University] and wanted other women to start their own chapter,” she said. 

Gallegos then began bringing the club to life.

“It was honestly a dream,” she said. “I picked some amazing women that I knew would be perfect to help me establish this club.” 

One of these women is sophomore biology major Maddie Phillips, the vice president of UMW Girl Gains.

“Besides the paperwork associated with starting a club, we spent a lot of time trying to spread the word about our club through friends and social media,” said Phillips. “I think for a solid month I told literally every girl I know about our club!”

Phillips knew from personal experience that UMW could benefit from a Girl Gains club.

“There have been many times throughout my weightlifting journey that I’ve been the only girl at the gym,” she said. “I cannot wait to help other girls get into lifting and see the positive mental and physical outcomes.”

Phillips, a pole vaulter on the UMW track and field team, has been lifting since she was only fourteen. She stated, “I compete in Olympic lifting in the off-season and even qualified for junior nationals last year.”

Gallegos works at Campus Recreation and has been consistently exercising for two and a half years.

“I have been around a lot of certified trainer friends and people who have been lifting for years who have helped me get to where I am,” she said. “I am super excited for where this club will go in the future and how many people we will get to know.”

Sophomore nursing major Mary Bruiniany is a member of UMW Girl Gains.

“I was drawn to the positive atmosphere they promoted about female weightlifting and felt like I would gain a good support system,” she said.

The club has its first formal meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. For updates and more information, the club can be reached through their Instagram @umwgirlgains.