After just a few weeks I could lift nearly twice as much weight as when I'd started. It made me feel enormously confident and healthy, and proud of what my body can do.
Jessica Gillard (Medicine, 2013) reports: “We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved. Wadham is the only undergraduate college to have an all-female weightlifting team, defying conventions and showing everyone how strong women can be. Many of us have found having a women only club very empowering and it has encouraged us to push ourselves harder in such a supportive environment.
With around 20 women lifting regularly, there is a waiting list most weeks due to a shortage of space in the Wadham gym. We meet 1-3.30pm every Sunday during term term with our wonderful coach Shez Naqvi, as well as many of us meeting during the week for uncoached sessions (often Wednesday mornings in the women's only hours of the gym).
At present, thanks to generous donations from WadSAS, we are able to train with Shez, a qualified personal trainer, all through term without the extortionate fees many gyms charge. This has helped to open up our membership to people who have never before considered weightlifting, as well as those who have some experience. For four terms now, we have been improving our form and execution of the main powerlifting moves: the squat, bench press, shoulder press and deadlift. All of us have seen what we can lift increase significantly over the weeks.
As we get stronger, the sense of camaraderie of the team and the confidence of the individuals within it grows. The club has one of the most inclusive, positive, and lively atmospheres of any club at Wadham, and sets a great example, representing all the qualities that the college endorses and hopes to inspire in its students. Our members include staff, undergraduates, graduates and a few returning alumni who just can't bear to leave us behind!
It has been a truly fantastic start for WWW, and we are all excited to see what the next years hold. We are so very grateful for the funding WadSAS provides, and we hope to continue to grow as a team and to involve as many women as possible in the great sport of weightlifting.”
When we shift our focus from how heavy am I to how heavy can I lift we are also shifting focus away from the many toxic ideals surrounding women about how they 'should' look.
I've struggled with mental health a little since coming to Oxford, and having such an amazing and positive group of women to train with really helped me through it.