Loyola Campus groups work together to build female empowerment through fitness

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

“That was great,” Mussoline said. “I need that confidence every night.”

The Department of Recreation and Wellness and the Women’s Center have 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 have collaborated through various events such as Resource Thursday, Ladies Night, and Empowered Women classes.

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

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

Marissa Binkley ’23 interns at the Women’s Center, where she supports events the campus group plans. Binkley says they create these events to build community and de-stress students through various 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 get used to the gym itself,” Binkley said.

According to Binkley, the collaboration between these two departments was one of the main focuses of the Women’s Center this semester. They have 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 the Empowered Women classes are a great introduction to the gym because they bring people together and create a new community in one’s fitness journey. Mussoline agreed, finding that learning new ways to train from these programs has 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, guiding participants through Empowered Women classes. First there is a 45 minute workout and then a 15 minute session where they discuss a healthy habit, such as repairing your relationship with food or ending excessive exercise.

For Jokhadar, the partnership with the Women’s Center was powerful and created a vulnerability that bonded the group. She explained that Women’s Center Director 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 she enjoyed working with the Women’s Center and feels she has grown while teaching these lessons and creating this community.

“I feel strong as an instructor,” Jokhadar said. “I can combine my passion for sports with helping others and the by-product is creating a strong female community.”

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

Click here for more information about the women’s center and click here for more information about the fitness and aquatic center.

Featured image courtesy of Meaghan Parsons.



Loyola Campus groups work together to build female empowerment through fitness

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