Monica Williams noticed that many women in her neighborhood had no where to exercise, so she decided to do something about it.
Her passion for fitness and kids collided when she started GirlFit Workout Studio in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, last year.
“I have been living in Upper Marlboro for 15 years and I would see women walking back and fourth in the street because we never had a fitness center in the area,” Williams said. “I have a legal background and when I left corporate America I knew I wanted to do something that would incorporate both of my passions.”
Williams briefly went into the school system to teach, but discovered she wanted to take a different route.
“I opened the fitness studio because women in the community needed somewhere to go,” she said.
The women’s gym features pole fitness, hula hooping, boot camp, kickboxing, twerkfit, soul spin, Zumba, personal training and many other offerings.
Due to a clause in her lease, she got first dibs on a space next door that she turned into a facility to work with young girls.
“I had to quickly decide how to use that space and I came up with an all girls fitness empowerment camp,” Williams said. “Then I made it strictly a dance studio for girls, then my girls insisted I do a before- and after-school program and that turned into a summer camp.
“So now it’s pretty much an empowerment center for girls,” she said. We teach etiquette and do confidence building.”
Williams said although a unisex gym would be more lucrative, the rewards outweigh that.
“I have met a lot of women and it’s very empowering just to see the progress they’ve made with their weight loss and confidence,” she said. “I feel like we needed a space for ourselves. Just to let our hair down. If we want to come in without makeup or just to let loose and be ourselves, we can do that.”
Williams is most proud of the fact that the gym has helped neighbors meet each other.
“I know a lot of people wouldn’t be able to take that chance to open an all women’s gym, but I find that my women are really appreciative because I’ve connected the community and it has brought us together,” she said.
Williams said that through other offerings such as girls’-night-out, vision boards, confidence, financial and nutrition workshops has made the female gym goers establish a bond outside of the normal workout classes.
“I know I’ve passed these women on a daily basis over the past 15 years, but now [that] we all know each other, we go out together,” she said. “It has really brought the community together.”