Pretty Girls Sweat club encourages Rutgers students to pursue positive, active lifestyles
The Pretty Girls Sweat organization was founded by Aeshia DeVore Branch, a social entrepreneur, in September 2011 in New York. Inspired by former first lady Michelle Obama, the program promotes positivity and fitness for women.
Shannon McIntyre, vice president of Pretty Girls Sweat at Rutgers, said that the organization derives its approach from Obama's lifestyle.
"She was a philanthropist, a mother, an athlete and a role model for women who advocated for female students,” she said.
The organization wants to spread positivity and enable women to feel good about themselves, embrace their strengths as a woman, as an athlete or any other role she played, McIntyre said.
“It is not only women who can join our club. Men are more than welcome to join the organization as well. It is really just a positive space to help each other out throughout our journey regardless of what we want the end result to be,” she said.
The essence of the club is that it wants to make fitness a positive and fun experience, McIntyre said. It does not matter if you have been working out for years or never set foot in a gym.
“Just know that we are not going to judge you. There is no pressure to look a certain way. You can come to us as you are and we are here to support you, encourage you and just be an organization that you can rely on," she said.
Mackenzie Heffernan, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, brought Pretty Girls Sweat to Rutgers this semester after transferring from the County College of Morris (CCM), and McIntyre said that Heffernan believes fully in the organization and what it stands for.
"She helped found the club at CCM and when she saw that it worked there, she wanted to bring it to Rutgers where the population is more diverse and saw that a lot of people could benefit from the organization,” she said.
Heffernan said that she has been involved with the organization for two years now. She originally got involved in high school.
“I waited a year at Rutgers to adjust to (the) University and started the club this semester because I felt that people needed to be more comfortable working out in the gym,” Heffernan said.
The club aims to target the stigma about women working out, she said.
It also seeks to spread awareness about taking care of one’s health and body while in college so students can create good habits when they are young and keep them throughout their life, Heffernan said.
“We are looking forward to attending Rutgers recreation events such as RU Muddy and Big Chill. Besides, we will be doing a fundraiser, a nutrition documentary screening with the nutrition club and a de-stress yoga event this semester,” she said.
Students should join the club since it gives them a way to hold people accountable for help and they do not have an excuse to not go to the gym anymore, Heffernan said. They can post it on the group and others can come along.
“It is a different club since we are not meeting every week like most clubs. It is up to you if you want to put in the time and have the availability to come to our events. But we are always here to support everyone when they need it,” she said.
To become a member, you have to register on the first day of each month. People will be able to register next on Nov. 1. The registration costs $30 which includes a Pretty Girls Sweat T-shirt, a keychain lanyard, a handbook that includes workout ideas and recipes, Pretty Girls Sweat merchandise, access to the GroupMe and a membership for the entire year, she said.
“We have 34 members as of now. We have been using social media to grow popularity. We posted on the class Facebook pages for each grade about our club and got in 200 emails or closer asking about it," Heffernan said.
Naila Khan, School of Arts and Sciences junior, said it is important for students to stay fit since it rejuvenates them every day and they tend to live longer as a result. It can give a person more energy and more motivation.
“I like going to gym alone as well as with friends sometimes. When I go alone, I have more motivation because I know no one is going to bother me. However, when I go with friends, they motivate me. Either way, it is a win-win situation," Khan said
Khan said that the club seems to be doing a good job. Students get to meet new people and they can motivate each other and help set goals.
Amira Sparks, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, is the workout coordinator for the Pretty Girls Sweat club.
“We all know about the freshman 15 and how hard it is to stay healthy especially with all of the tempting junk food Rutgers has,” Sparks said.
The club is a great way to stay motivated to eat healthily and stay active, she said
“It is an awesome way for my friends and I to work out together and help each other stay focused on our health during the school year," Sparks said. "I can meet new friends who also care about fitness like I do and I can teach them new workouts at the gym."
Anushtha Mittal is a first-year student in the Rutgers Business School. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.