Club empowers women through fitness activities

Fit Like A Girl members attend group fitness classes together at studios on campus and around Los Angeles, integrating activities like yoga, pilates and Jiu Jitsu into their workouts. (Photo courtesy of Audrey Geis)

When Margot May helped found Fit Like A Girl in Spring 2019, she felt that USC lacked an all-female community to engage in fitness and health outside of University sports. Since its inception, May, the social media head of Fit Like A Girl, and other founders of the club hope to empower members to become their best selves and bring together a diverse community of college-aged women through planned fitness activities.

As of Spring 2020, the club boasts a roster of more than 100 members and serves as a perfect group workout system for girls looking for a fitness community, said Alya Kalra, the Fit Like A Girl event coordinator.

“If you want a place where you can meet a lot of girls, if you want to try a different workout routine … I think this is the perfect club for them,” Kalra said.

Natalie Ospeck, a sophomore majoring in global health, said she and other members of Fit Like A Girl were inspired to lead the club by a desire to bring girls together and introduce them to what it means to have an active lifestyle. 

“I always loved working out when I was younger and in high school,” Ospeck said. “Coming to college where I didn’t have that organization around working out, it was a little bit stressful … And so we’re inspired just by bringing girls together and inspiring a healthy lifestyle in college because it can be hard to fit in workouts.”

Members pay a $10 fee each semester to meet at different fitness studios either on or near campus for a workout session once a week. In the past, Fit Like A Girl has partnered with CorePower Yoga, Studio Club Pilates, Clube Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Bespoke Cycling. 

The club sends out polls to members at the end of each semester and gauges which workouts members enjoyed the most to ensure everyone has a say in future workouts and studios that they attend, Ospeck said. 

“We really want to make it an affordable thing for people,” Ospeck said. “So we really look for studios who are either willing to volunteer their time and let us try a class or give us a discounted group rate.”

For Audrey Geis, a sophomore majoring in business administration, Fit Like A Girl stands out from other athletic clubs because it is not geared toward rigorous training but toward building a community and a support system for its members. 

“The main purpose of our club isn’t really to get an amazing workout,” Geis said. “The point of it is to bring girls [together] that are involved in a lot of different things on campus or might not have found a way to meet each other.” 

Kalra joined Fit Like A Girl in January 2019 after a friend recommended the organization as a way to stay active with a group of girls with similar interests.

“I always liked being in a group setting when I was working out, which, I thought, motivates people to work out and be active more so than if you’re just going alone to the gym,” said Kalra, a sophomore majoring in public policy.

Kalra is responsible for reaching out to various studios both within and outside of USC to see whether they would be willing to host a class. 

“[Last year], we went to a Jiu Jitsu studio that was run by a USC [alumnus],” Kalra said. “He kind of turned it into a self-defense class and that was really fun even though it is pretty serious to learn about self defense.” 

Fit Like A Girl was originally part of the organization CHAARG, a national institution that aims to ignite college girls with a passion for health and fitness. Due to $45 dues and limited events available on the West Coast, the founders decided to separate from CHAARG to start their own group. 

“[CHAARG] is a tremendous organization,” said May, a sophomore majoring in public policy. “We have so much respect for them. However, their commitment required a lot more of us than we thought was necessary.” 

Kalra said she benefits from having a group that holds its members accountable to living a healthy and active lifestyle.

“One of our first workouts last semester was with Orange Theory,” May said. “We had over 60 girls and it was a really hard workout … It was kind of empowering to see a bunch of girls work out together and also just fun to see people who wouldn’t necessarily be friends or wouldn’t necessarily meet each other in any other sphere of USC become friends.”

For members like Geis, progress is going better than ever with all the hard work and commitment members have put into the message since Fit Like A Girl was founded at USC. 

“I’m really proud of all our work because we’ve made a lot of great connections with different studios that are in L.A.,” Geis said. “That’s made it a lot easier, especially this semester, to just reach out to people we’ve worked with already that we know.”