Health & Fitness

Olympia High offers girls-only weight-training class

Olympia High School head football coach Bill Beattie has taught health and fitness classes for 31 years.

But this semester, he’s teaching something that he’s never taught before: an all-girls strength and fitness class.

“Girl Power” features weight training, yoga, cardio and other fitness activities designed for female students. It’s a mix of traditional weight training with elements from several popular workouts, including Bootcamp, CrossFit and Insanity, Beattie said.

Kari Simmons, 16, said she thinks everyone works harder in the daily 50-minute class because nobody is feeling judged or insecure in front of boys.

“We don’t have to worry about the guys benching 200 pounds, when we’re benching 100,” she said. “We’re all friends, and we all sweat and look ugly together.”

The class has changed the atmosphere of the weight room, Beattie said. The mix of activities make it feel more like a fitness center, he said.

There are fewer grunts and groans, and there’s more conversation, he said.

“Guys don’t really care about the other person’s family,” Beattie said. “Those young ladies want to know everything about everybody.”

The girls encourage each other, and have bonded over the experience, he said. In fact, Girl Power class recently won a competition in the school’s food drive, and Beattie believes it’s because they’ve become more like a team or a family than a group of classmates.

Jasmine Bonner, 17, said she enjoys the class because it gives her time for “girl talk” but it also shows results. She’s lost 17 pounds and has dropped several clothes sizes since the class began in September.

“Your body changes a lot, very quickly — you’ve just got to put in the work,” Bonner said.

Beattie said he’s learned that girls require a different type of motivation than football players and male athletes.

He lets them pick the music that they work out to, as long as it doesn’t contain mature lyrics. On a recent morning, they listened to Christmas music; it was probably the first time that’s ever happened in the weight room, Beattie said with a laugh.

He’s also learned that he needs to give girls a couple of extra minutes in the locker room so they can fix their hair and makeup.

“They’re really giving me an education on what it would be like to parent a girl,” said Beattie, who has two sons. “They’re like 21 daughters to me.”