Tufts Lifting Club aims to expand weightlifting community, make gym more accessible

Members of the Tufts Lifting Club are pictured. (Courtesy Ryan Sheehan)

The Tufts Lifting Club is aimed at encouraging and promoting health and wellness on campus by creating a community for those interested in weightlifting and powerlifting, according to club president Daniel Moon, a junior at Tufts. He spoke to finding a small community in the gym and the desire to expand that experience to the wider Tufts community.

“Coming in to Tufts my first year, I was unfamiliar with the gym space, especially the weights area,” Moon said. “I was a bit wary about going there and seeing the same people there each time. But I soon began to get to know them and we formed a little community. My sophomore year, I began to think about why there wasn’t such a community for the entire campus. So some friends and I got together and created the club.”

When discussing how the club was formed and who is involved, Moon said that he started it with juniors Paul Jin and Yves Chen, his friends who he knew had a lot of experience in the gym. In addition, he discussed the depth of experience other board members bring to the club.

“Paul [Jin] and Sabrina [Lin] are trainers at the gym and Yves [Chen] is a competitive powerlifter, so we have many people from various backgrounds with various experiences that contribute to the club,” he said.

Moon mentioned that the primary goal of the club is to ensure that students who don’t have the resources or space they need to workout in the gym find what they need. Specifically, for those who feel intimidated by those in the gym, the goal is to cater to them and to make them feel comfortable. Sophomore Sabrina Lin, the events officer of the club, echoed this sentiment.

“I agreed with Moon’s vision to create a more inclusive environment within the gym,” she said.

Lin said that she was involved with sports for a long time and that seeing the stigma associated with women in sports inspired her to get involved with the Tufts Lifting Club.

“There is a sense of nervousness [for women] when stepping into the gym where there are a lot of men in the space,” Lin said. “People look at lifting in general as belonging primarily to that group … but it is an activity that should be enjoyed by everyone.”

She noted that her involvement also stems from her personal interest in health and wellness.

“I am also a personal trainer at the gym. I can represent the club and help people with weightlifting as my profession as a part of my position,” she said.

Jin discussed finding a community at the gym in his first year at Tufts as well as working with Moon and other current board members to create the club.

“Coming in my first year, I did not really have a set social group on campus. There is a stigma associated with the people at the gym, but it is really supposed to be for everybody, so our goal is to make people more comfortable at the gym,” Jin said.

Jin also said that his position as a trainer at the gym has been immensely helpful in meeting the goals of the club and increasing comfort at the gym.

“Tufts Lifting Club, as a group, is not allowed to teach people at the gym as it becomes a liability. The only people who can are the trainers,” he said. “One of our goals is to make people feel empowered at the gym. We want to teach people the correct movements and exercises. In this sense, serving as a trainer has helped me and Sabrina [Lin] immensely.”

Lin also mentioned the additional benefit of being a trainer at the gym.

“We need to have credibility to label ourselves as the Tufts Lifting Club,” she says. “We are trying to help people outside the athletic realm, so we need a sense of expertise to help people.”

In terms of events the group has organized, Jin, Moon and Lin talked about the Meet the Officers event that the club hosted recently. The objective was to allow students interested in lifting to get to know the leaders of the group and to make them more accessible.

“The event was geared towards people getting familiar with us and not just [seeing] us a presence at the gym,” Lin said.

Jin also spoke about a form check event that the club recently hosted that allowed students to obtain help as they worked out. This encouraged people to work out and improve their health, Jin mentioned.

“We want people to feel less judgement when [they] come in to the gym. We are trying to create [a] fun, inclusive environment.” he said.

Jin also mentioned a personal long-term goal for events put on by the organization: having the club host a lift-a-thon.

“The goal is to collaborate with someone who can donate money to a good cause. People can come and lift any weight they want, raising money for a certain amount of pounds lifted,” he said.

Jin said that this is in line with the ultimate goal of the organization.

“The Lift-A-Thon is aimed at taking things step-by-step for people who want to lift,” he said.

Looking toward the future, both Moon and Lin discussed making the group more knowledge-based and expanding their partnerships with other fitness groups on campus.

“We are trying to bring in other fitness professionals and experts to promote health wellness,” Lin said.

Moon expanded upon this point.

“One option we considered was to collaborate with club and varsity sports for an event,” Moon said. “This was an obvious option due to the shared interest in physical exercise and health.”

Moon also talked about the desire to clear misconceptions about nutrition and health.

“We are currently in the process of reaching out to some people at the nutrition school to get a guest speaker to talk to students about health and exercise,” Moon said. “We want to work with other student health groups. Partnering can help show the stigma of weightlifting and can show the aspects of weightlifting that improve your life. Ultimately, we want to expand [as a club] to make weightlifting … a part of your life. It is a great way to improve all aspects of health.”