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The Strong Women Support Group: Lifting Weights and Building Community

By Cori Mattli, YWCA Strategic Communications Specialist
May 16, 2018
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If you attend Andrew’s Friday morning Boot Camp class, you’ll meet the spirited members of the self-named Strong Women Support Group, a group of fitness members who have been working out, supporting each other and sharing life’s ups and downs for years.

Finding their Way to YWCA

They are all long-time YWCA Minneapolis members, each finding their way to YWCA for different reasons. Celia joined when her daughter was two years old and she was looking for ways to get out of the house. “I had never done any sort of physical activity, no sports as a kid or anything,” says Celia, “so it was just a whole new world. I had no idea how great it felt to be strong and work out hard. It was so empowering.” They ended up going to YWCA Midtown five days a week.

Jennie joined because her job left her sedentary for long periods of time and she felt a need to move. She tried different things at YWCA, like group fitness classes, but eventually a trainer convinced her to push herself more in Small Group Training. “Small Group Training was a great way to set goals and to reach those goals after children,” says Jennie, “I remember wheeling my children in here in infant carriers and doing kettlebell training!”

Sally started at YWCA when she was five months pregnant and came every day until the day she had her son. In the years after that, YWCA became a place to reflect and reclaim her sense of self. “I had my third kid and I had some family stuff happening at the time, and this was a sanctuary,” says Sally. “This was a place for me to grieve and to find myself again after having three kids and experiencing loss.” Sally started running on the track and eventually started training. Sally gestures to the women beside her: “I’ve been with these guys for five years.”

Ladies Who Motivate

The Strong Women Support Group started out as women coming together to work out. Now, it’s a close-knit group of women who motivate each other to keep coming in, reach their goals and push themselves.

They also have a great sense of humor. “Did Andrew warn you about us?” Sally grins. They designed their own workout T-shirts with a Strong Women Support Group logo, and they say the next ones will feature a “Fueled by Tacos” theme.

Tough, But Supportive Workouts

On this particular day, Trainer Andrew has the group start out with Romanian deadlifts, pistol squats and weighted sit-ups. Then they move into cardio. Jennie is holding a plank when she calls out, “Turn that music up!” The room is booming with music, movement and chatter. Celia lets out a roar after she sets down the kettlebells she’s been suspending in the air. The workout is tough, but gratifying.

“The more you work out with the same people, the more they can read your face,” says Sally. “They see you at your worst and your best. When one of us is just having a bad day, she’s with people who know what to say to get her over that hump.”

Three of the women have children. They all have busy, complicated lives. But, with the support of the group, they have the accountability to keep showing up. “There are days where it’s hard to just get here because someone has a temper tantrum on the way to school,” says Jennie. “There are any number of things that could be easy excuses not to come to the gym. But because these ladies are here, we show up.”

All About the Community

The group agrees it’s the people that keep them coming back to YWCA. “It’s by far the most supportive group of women I’ve ever been with my entire life,” says Jennie. “Everything about YWCA Midtown represents South Minneapolis and the environment is really empowering to work out in and to grow in. This is my community.”

Learn More about Small Group Training

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