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DA Girls’ Weightlifting Club Raises the Bar
Sophia Hamlen '22 Senior Staff Writer
February 2, 2022

Historically, women have endured a long battle to secure gender equality within fitness gyms. During the 1960s, women had to fight the argument that their bodies couldn’t “handle” exercise. By the 1970s and 1980s, women were encouraged to achieve a “lean and long” body while avoiding any muscle-building activity. It was not until the 1990s that muscles on women had become socially acceptable. 

Unfortunately, the Deerfield community is still working toward holistic gender equality in the gym. The second floor of the gym, where all the cardio machines are located, has been nicknamed “the girls’ floor,” while the weight room downstairs bears the overwhelming presence of men. However, Avery Izzo ’24 and Lila DeLuca ’24 have been breaking down this divide, spearheading the new DA Girls Weightlifting Club. 

Credit: Julia Hioe

“The DA Girls’ Weightlifting Club is a community of girls who inspire, support, and encourage each other in the weight room,” explained Izzo. The club meets a few times a week during mornings, after school, and even on weekends. “Whether we’re doing the same lift or doing our own individual workouts, we aim to increase the presence of female athletes in the weight room,” she added.

“The Girls’ Lifting Club is less like a club and more a community of girls who have lifted in the past or are trying something new,” said DeLuca. 

Recognizing the gender split within the gym, Izzo said, “When I came to Deerfield this year as a new sophomore, I heard a lot of girls were scared to pick up weights or felt like they would be judged by males if they went below the cardio deck. The conception that ‘girls are weak’ or that ‘girls should look skinny’ devalues the heart of our community and contributes to the fear that girls may have of lifting weights.” She added, “As someone who has found lifting to be empowering, I was saddened by this.” 

DeLuca said, “Mainly, I wanted to be able to share my love for lifting amongst other girls at DA, especially considering the amount of female athletes that had demonstrated their desire to start lifting but were unsure where to start or were scared to lift in front of a gym of men.”

She continued, “Even though the weightroom is technically open to all students on campus, there still seems to be a lingering stigma that it belongs to the male athletes on campus.” She added, “Personally, I have found it challenging to lift solo in the gym when it is packed with guys.”

Izzo and DeLuca were inspired to create the club to empower women and foster inclusivity within the gym–two goals they hope to see realized in their time at Deerfield. Izzo said, “I believe fitness has the power to drive social change, build confidence and self-efficacy, and strengthen communities. Fitness should be safe, affirming, inclusive, and equitable for all people.”

Further reflecting, Izzo described the club as “ a great group of welcoming girls whose presence really makes a difference no matter your experience with lifting. It brings me so much joy and positivity for the future of females involved in sports.”  

Despite the feats that Izzo and DeLuca are achieving, holistic gender equality within the gym requires a community-wide effort. 

Morgan Giardina ’22, a member of the club, shared, “I definitely think there is a stigma around girls in the gym, perpetuated by both guys and girls alike,” adding, “the more girls in the gym, the more normal it becomes, and the less of a stigma there is.”

As the DA Girls’ Weightlifting Club continues to lead the movement towards gender equality within the gym, the larger Deerfield community can also support and bolster the presence of girls within the gym. 

DeLuca concluded by saying, “I remember my freshman year, when senior girls lifting in the gym would smile and wave to me–it made me feel so much more welcome and included in the space,” adding, “acknowledging others girls in the gym goes a long way; kindness spreads.”

To learn more about the DA Girl’s Weightlifting Club, follow their instagram @girlsliftingatda.