Swole Sister Sleepover 2015

Posted by Becca Abrahams on




By: Becca

The first annual Swole Sister Sleepover was a huge success! This event was the second meet-up for the midwest Belles of the Bar and hosted at PRIMAL Strength and Fitness, located in Stoughton, WI. This is my home gym and is becoming a great resource for women's strength sports! We are thankful for Jimmy Brooks allowing us to use the space, which was perfect for this event!
We had a total of 24 women attend the event. Women from all walks of life were represented here, coming together for a night of community, training, camraderie, and sharing of weights, stories, laughs, and motivation. The number of women in strength sports is rapidly increasing, and women's lives are being changed as they focus on being more, not less; to focus on what their bodies can do, rather than on how they look. Belle of the Bar, BeStrong Fitness, and PRIMAL Strength and Fitness are proud to be a part of this amazing event which is one small part of changing the culture of fitness for women. We hope to continue to be a light in the fitness community for encouraging female strength athletes. It is in this community that we can learn from one another and find the support that we need to reach our goals without judgement or criticism.

I cannot thank my crew enough for making this event a success. Without them this would have never been possible! Beth McBride worked tirelessly behind the scenes to put together a raffle to benefit Relentless Detroit which raised over $400. People came home with amazing donations from Nubreed Nutrition, MHP, DC Estate Winery, Belle of the Bar, Atomic Barbell, Magnum Protein, Yeti's Pizza, NFP, Primal Strength and Fitness, and BeStrongFitness were a few of the companies who generously donated to make the raffle successful! Free samples from Organic Valley, Nubreed, and NFP allowed us to put together some great gift bags!

China Batyik shared some uplifting words of encouragement and motivation with the group, reminding us to enjoy the journey, forgive ourselves, and be kind, not only to others but also to ourselves. Catharin Chenoweth, a competitive powerlifter shared her journey of strength, "Never too late to say Yes" which began just over two years ago at the age of 60. Sarah "Corbie" Dutton shared about her own personal journey of strength, body acceptance and body transformation through the sport of strongman. Stories were also shared from myself, Raeanne Pemberton, and Cheri Rushing about what strength means to us and our future mission with Belle of the Bar. I also want to thank the entire team of lifters at PRIMAL Strength and Fitness who supported this event and contributed much time, sweat, and energy into making this a success.

The event began at about 5 p.m. The first few minutes was a flurry of movement as women from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Nevada, and Oregon arrived with sleeping bags, food, and lifting gear and piled into our 2000 square foot facility. Many hugs were given as old friends reunited and new friends were made immediately. Name tags were handed out and we came together for a ice-breaker game that was a ton of fun.

We learned a little about each person, like the fact that Jenn had survived a near-fatal penguin attack, Beth had been accused of being an American spy in (mainland) China, and Tabitha just happens to be an experienced skydiver.


About 5:30, we began a full-body group dynamic warmup that a few people complained was "too much cardio", and then lifting began.

Myself, Beth McBride, and Cheri Rushing taught some simple coaching cues for squat, bench, and deadlift in the powerlifting area while China and Raeanne were busy teaching stones, the log, and the yoke-firsts for many of the women in attendance!

 The energy in the room was contagious and there were 17 PRs!!!!! Truly an amazing experience that no words can explain.

At about 9:00, pizza was delivered and we gathered together for a short toast to celebrate our strength and community, after which we listened to several women share stories and messages of transformation and encouragement.

The rest of the evening was filled with laughter, sharing, and of course a few shenanigans, and a bond was made that will continue for years to come. We even got a little rest before gathering together for breakfast in the morning.

In many ways this event was a dream to me, and I am still overwhelmed at the thought of the amazing opportunity that I have been given to share my passion for strength with other women.

Although this event was about lifting weights and we definitely did throw some heavy weights around, it was so much more than that. Women left feeling loved, empowered, and encouraged, ready to take this message of encouragement and community home to their own local strength communities.
This was a gathering of strong women. Women who feel this strange tug between being too much and not enough. Too big, too small, too loud, too quiet, too opinionated, too passionate, too caring, too emotional, too shy. Not lean enough, not curvy enough, not strong enough, not pretty enough, not organized, not logical enough, not small enough. Rarely do you find a community of like-minded individuals that is not only supportive of one another's pursuits, but also kind and genuine. Where intensity, passion and strength are celebrated, not mocked, and where we realize that right where we are, right now, we are enough with nothing to prove to anyone. We are completely free to be more and not less. 

"Women who have been told negative shit their whole life, now have a passion and drive, yet are still criticized for their looks, and now their passion. Truly is awesome to see someone take hold and try and motivate them.."
-Jeff Frank

We are excited to begin planning the next, and even better event and have some big dreams for women's strength sports! 



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