Barbell Club Helps Girls Build Strength In and Out of the Weight Room

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DES MOINES, Iowa –The weight room can be intimidating for anyone, especially high school students. A new program is helping girls at a Des Moines High School in and out of the weight room.

Walk into the weight room at East High School, and you’ll find a group of girls raising the bar on what it means to lift weights. “I feel like there is always going to be a comparison with boys and girls who like lift," said Senior Paulina Hernandez.

Junior Jordan Thompson said, "We work together. We push through it. We all have the same energy. We`re focused.”

The East High School students are part of the Barbell Club. Twenty-seven girls are taking part. “I didn't think I could do it and I definitely didn't think I had the confidence to do it,” said Sophomore Isabella Lopez.

The group meets for two hours two times a week after school. The non profit Women’s Barbell Classic started the program this year. It’s a six week strength training program for high school girls.

“This was an experience I didn't get to have until I was in my late 20's, early 30's. and it changed my life in and out of the gym,” said Women’s Barbell Classic Co-Founder Annie Brees.

The Women’s Barbell Classic is a power-lifting meet for women. It will be held in April. Money raised supports the Barbell Club to promote strength training at a young age. “We know strength training increases self-esteem and when you increase self-esteem in a high school girl, they’re limitless,” said Brees.

The club is free for the participants, but it costs nearly $200 per girl. They get a shirt, sweatshirt, shoes, snacks, and a strength journal. “So they get the best experience. They feel really special. It’s a big deal that you’re a part of the Barbell Club,” said Meghan McCoy with the Women’s Barbell Classic.

The program builds strength in and out of the weight room. Paulina said it has given her confidence. "It feels good because I didn’t think I was every capable to lift this much weight, and I hope to one day lift as much as I weigh and more," she said.

“My muscles are getting bigger and stronger. I’m focused more. I`m energized,” said Jordan.

Brees said she’s gotten plenty out of leading the club. “Oh, I`m gonna cry. I`ve gotten so much,” she said. “They've really reaffirmed and reignited the passion I have for teaching the gift of strength to women.”

McCoy added, “I don`t typically get emotional, but they`ve had an impact on my life more than they`ll ever know. They`ve taught me as much as I think I`ve taught them on what does it mean to be scared and do something anyway. Go after your goals and be a part of a community and do something bigger than yourself.”

The Barbell Club is only at East High School now, but they want to have it in all five Des Moines high schools in the next five years.

The Women's Barbell Classic is hosting "You Can Lift with Us" on Saturday, November 9th. It's an open house weight lifting event from 4 to 6 p.m. at 22nd Street Barbell. You can leave a free will donation to support the Barbell Club.

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