University Recreation Center (UREC) Weight Room

 Th event was coordinated by the Morrison Bruce Center and UREC. 

With a pre-workout snack in hand, JMU women walked into UREC on Sunday ready to exercise, and more importantly, ready to learn. This weekend, students from the Morrison-Bruce Center came together to host the annual Barbells and Brunch, an event designed to teach women how to become comfortable in the weight room.

The event included workout walk-throughs, exercise demonstrations, machine workouts and personal training sessions. Additionally, attendees could go to a nutrition session that was hosted by students in the dietetics department.

Leaders of the program attempted to attack stigmas associated with the weight room and help attendees gain confidence in their workout abilities.

“Part of what we know about exercise psychology is that what we call self-efficacy — if you don’t believe you can do it, you’re not going to do it,” Liz Edwards, executive director of the Morrison-Bruce Center, said. “Part of this event is not just each individual female getting to be successful doing it, but they get to see other females being successful doing it.”

As lifting is typically a male-dominated part of fitness, Barbells and Brunch attempted to highlight the importance of strength and resistance training not just for men, but for women as well.

“The benefits that are there for the men are just as prominent for the women,” Caroline Pauley, a junior kinesiology major, said. “Women need to be strength training as much, if not more, than men. The natural bone density of women is lower than for men and by strength training, you can increase that.”

Because the UREC gym is an open setup, working out can feel like you’re on display, according to Danielle Thomas, a senior kinesiology major who ran the event with Pauley.

Barbells and Brunch attempted to counteract these stereotypes and empower women to get out of their comfort zone.

“It gives [women] an opportunity to learn without judgement and to learn what they’re supposed to be doing from other females who do it,” Thomas said.

The event allowed women to take the first steps in developing a new skill, but the leaders of Barbells and Brunch reminded attendees that they don’t have to be experienced to get a good workout.

“Everyone starts somewhere and you kind of just have to get your feet wet and get comfortable with it before you jump in,” Thomas said.

Most of all, the event emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

“There are benefits for every single person who exercises every single time, so it’s really important to make that a part of your lifestyle,” Pauley said. “It improves your health, it improves your grades, it reduces your stress level and it can just make you generally much happier. The health benefits are endless.”

Contact Susie Hyland at For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.