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Loyola Campus Groups Collaborate to Build Female Empowerment Through Fitness

A smile spread across Mari Mussoline ’24’s face as she beamed from her yoga class at the Ladies Night event at Loyola University, Maryland’s Fitness and Aquatic Center.

“It was amazing,” Mussoline said. “I need that kind of confidence boost every night.”

The Department of Recreation and Wellness and the Women’s Center invited women from Loyola’s campus to build self-esteem, confidence and empowerment through an ongoing collaboration between the two departments this semester. The two campus groups collaborated through a variety of events such as Resource Thursday, Ladies Night, and Empowered Women classes.

Mussoline has participated in many events hosted between the Department of Recreation and Wellness and the Women’s Center. Mussoline says that the energy at these events is contagious.

“There are so many people you get to meet, and I really enjoy learning about new workouts and just healthy habits in general,” Mussoline said. “It can feel a bit vulnerable to admit you want help in an environment like the gym, but everyone at these events is so supportive that I don’t mind going.”

Marissa Binkley ’23 is an intern at the Women’s Center where she supports events planned by the campus group. Binkley says that they create these opportunities to build community and work to unsettle students with different resources on campus.

“Sometimes the gym can be a little intimidating, especially in the weight room, but we create these events to show women all the different things the FAC has to offer. It allows them to get comfortable and adjust to the gym itself,” Binkley said.

According to Binkley, the collaboration between these two departments has been a main focus of the Women’s Center this semester. They focused on physical care as an aspect of the mental care and stress reduction they traditionally focus on.

“The Department of Recreation and Wellness can focus more on the physical care,” Binkley said. “So their collaboration is so important because it allows students to use these two resources and take care of their physical and mental health together.”

Binkley also said that the Empowered Women classes are a great introduction to the gym because they bring people together and create a new community in someone’s fitness journey. Mussoline agreed and found that learning new ways to exercise from these programs boosted her confidence.

“It’s just a really fun way to learn how to lift or participate in group classes. The introduction to the gym through these classes is the best way for me to feel comfortable and be able to go in and work out on my own. It helps me get over my own insecurities when it comes to fitness,” Mussoline said.

Nada Jokhadar ’23 is a lifting instructor in Loyola’s group fitness program and leads participants through Empowered Women classes. First, there’s a 45-minute workout and then a 15-minute session where they go over a healthy habit, like healing your relationship with food or ending over-exercising.

For Jokhadar, collaboration with the Women’s Center was powerful and created a vulnerability that connected the group. She explained that the director of the Women’s Center, Melissa Lees, joined them for their October class, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She said when Lees shared her personal battle with breast cancer, it was a very moving experience for their class that night. Jokhadar said that she has enjoyed working with the Women’s Center and feels that she has grown while teaching these classes and creating this community.

“I feel empowered as an instructor,” Jokhadar said. “I can mix my passion from exercising to help others and the byproduct creates a strong female community.”

According to Binkley, many more events take place at the Women’s Center that build the women’s community on Loyola’s campus. The events reduce stress and promote self-care during stressful times of the year.

Click here to learn more about the Women’s Center and click here to learn more about the Fitness and Aquatic Center.

Featured image courtesy of Meaghan Parsons.


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