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The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

Trust in Gust

New girls-only strength and conditioning session
Kalsang Gyaltsen
Coach Jessica Gust assists sophomore Lila Frank on the bench press May 27. Summer strength and conditioning has recently added a new girls-only season.

This summer Park’s strength and conditioning program is adding a new girls-only session reintroducing itself at Park. Strength and conditioning is a program designed to support Park athletes year-round. Strength Coach Jessica Gust is hoping for the best turnout for a new lifting session in the coming summer. The session has been an option in past years but it is making a comeback for the 2024-25 summer.

“I’m hoping that when girls have some time alone in the weight room to practice learning some skills, without the boys around, I’m hoping that that will lead them to be more confident and to push themselves harder in the weight room,” Gust said. “Also, for them to see some benefits of more long-term training so they can get the feedback that they need to understand how much of a difference it can make.”

Having tons of people in the weight room is stressful, sophomore Lila Frank said. These new sessions will hopefully promote girls to go to strength and conditioning.

“This was (made) to encourage more girls to get into the weight room and get better together,” Frank said. “Strength is a place for everyone, I think this decision might help alleviate some of the stress some people may have around the weight room.”

It’s motivating to see a girls only strength session, sophomore Claire Williams said. This change could create more opportunities for female athletes being comfortable in the weight room.

“Having a new girls-only session could be very inspiring, motivating and could create a comfortable space for new people to join,” Williams said. “It’s a great way to get more girls in the weight room, and increase female athletes’ attendance greatly.”

Girls can use this strength session as an opportunity to feel more confident, Gust said. It’s super important to have girls in the weight room to improve their long-term health and their physical abilities as an athlete.

“Data shows us that when you compare male and female adolescent athletes, female athletes gain access to strength training much later than boys, which is sort of backward,” Gust said. “In theory, girls should be exposed to it earlier based on when adulting, whereas the benefits for girls are important for athletic performance and your health as you age.”

Creating a girls only lifting session would take away the intimidation of having girls and boys brought, Frank said.The girls-only lifting sessions could encourage more participation and reduce stress.

“The weight room can feel a little intimidating at times. I’ve been going to strength for a while now and I still sometimes feel that way,” Frank said. “Having a specific girls-only session for lifting could encourage more girls to join to remove some stress.”

The addition of a girls only lift session came to be because of the disproportionate amount of girls compared to boys in the weight room, Williams said. When this new girls-only session gets going, there will be a change in the lifting environment at Park.

“When more and more people start going, it would create a great environment,” Williams said. “This decision was made based on the unequal ratio of girls to guys in the weight room.”

Adding a girls only session would help uplift girls and patch the gap, Frank said. Having a new girls-only session would benefit the strength and conditioning community as a whole.

“During the school season, a lot of times I’m one of the only girls in the weight room and even though that’s okay there’s a bit of a divide between myself and them, I think it would be really fun to lift with more girls,” Frank said. “I feel like this new girls-only session could become a great community because of peoples common goals, especially when it comes to the ranges of weight that were lifting.”

There has been a lot of interest in creating a new girls-only session during in-season lifting, said Gust. Depending on how popular the new girls-only sessions are, she will continue to have them in future programs.

“I’m really curious to see how it turns out actually because we’ve tried it before, a long time ago. I wanted to try it again just because there seems to be a lot more interest in it. I asked people before if they were interested in one, and people seemed much more interested in it this time versus last time I tried it so we’ll see how it goes,” Gust said. “If it goes well, then we’ll keep doing it. Now we have a really big collection of girls that are in season lifting for nine months out of the year. And we want to keep that moment to summer.”

The MS and HS girls-only strength and conditioning session is at 9-10:15 on Mon-Thur every week.

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Kalsang Wangmo
Kalsang Wangmo, Echo Staffer
Hi, My name is Kalsang. I’m a sophomore and this is my first year on Echo. When I'm not writing for Echo I like playing sports, I play basketball and do track. In my free time, I enjoy traveling and listening to music. I also enjoy deep woods hiking.  

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