For too long, the subject of female empowerment has been painted as a thing to fear for men, as if the goal were to somehow knock men down a peg or discriminate against males. Nothing could be further from the truth. The mission at YWCA Central Carolinas is explicitly to promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all, and “all” really does encapsulate everyone. “Equity across genders goes both ways,” says director of marketing Cassandra D’Alessio. “Men have similar insecurities about their body, just like women.” YWCA is a supportive place no matter your fitness level. “The core ideals of feminism and empowerment are to support and respect all individuals,” says D’Alessio, “we provide a safe place for women in our gym, but it’s also a safe place for men.” You won’t hear grunting or dropping weights in the YWCA’s weight room.
Properly understood, the empowerment of women benefits everyone and is a way for society to come together and bring people into safe, comfortable environments in which they can self-actualize and reach their own personal goals. It is about healing those of us who need healing, and about becoming a community in which true healing is possible.
The Sarah Belk Gambrell fitness center at YWCA Central Carolinas is a co-ed space where people of all body types, all fitness abilities and all walks of life can work out next to each other in a supportive, helpful place. Childcare is provided free with all family membership packages, and for a minimal cost for single visits. At first glance, a gym might seem an unlikely place to find female empowerment, but it is an essential part of the mission of YWCA Central Carolinas. As men and women strive for physical fitness in a low-key, supportive fitness center, community is strengthened as well. Whether women are housed on-site through the transitional housing programs at YWCA Central Carolinas or are members who come from nearby affluent neighborhoods, in the fitness center everyone is treated with equal dignity and respect by a staff that is knowledgeable, friendly and dedicated to providing a safe, comfortable environment.
At YWCA Central Carolinas, everything revolves around this goal. Whether joining the gym, becoming involved in a book club, volunteering your time in youth programs or advocating for racial justice, there are numerous ways to help empower women in the greater Charlotte community. The reward is no less than the betterment of society.