‘A comfortable place of empowerment’ Fit Fam exercises a welcoming community


Lindsey Komson

Illustration by

David Matos, Arts & Life Editor

Getting into fitness for the first time can be an intimidating experience, but Quinnipiac University’s Fit Fam organization aims to provide a safe space for everyone looking to not only gain a healthy body and mind but friendships that can go beyond the Recreation and Wellness Center.

“We’re all about being inclusive and supporting each other, and making fitness and health an important part of your life, and also a fun part, too, that some people might not be aware of yet,” said Abigail Fishbein, a junior occupational therapy major and the vice president of Fit Fam.

Though fitness education is what many students can get out of Fit Fam, the executive board mainly focuses on promoting a nurturing and supportive environment for the mental, physical and emotional well-being of all students.

Gianna Houle, a senior health science major in the entry-level dual-degree physician assistant program and president of Fit Fam, describes the organization as a “comfortable place of empowerment,” rather than directly naming it a club for fitness.

“We are a laid back yet welcoming environment,” Houle said. “We’re not only about physical fitness, because I think that’s misconstrued a lot of the time that (people) think we’re only going to the gym and working out, and we’re not.”

In the interest of every student’s mental stability, Houle said Fit Fam is not a strict program with weekly meetings, but comparatively a relaxed community for students to gain not only a sense of education but comfort.

“Just as a whole, we’re very welcoming, is a good word to put it, and we’re comforting,” Houle said. “We uplift each other because that’s what your wellness is. At the end of the day, you need to be uplifted in yourself.”

Fit Fam’s accessible persona persuaded Jillian Thibodeau, a junior 3+1 computer information systems major, to join the organization’s executive board this year as treasurer. She aims to spread her fitness knowledge with Quinnipiac students while making new friends along the way.

“I wanted to be a part of something that’s welcoming and help people start their fitness journeys and teach people things that maybe they don’t know what to do, how to start in the gym, that type of thing. Because everyone needs that push to get started in the gym,” Thibodeau said.

The gym can be a scary environment for some. If you’re not already familiar with how a fitness facility operates, you can easily get lost in a sea of intimidation and foreign machinery. According to a survey conducted by FitRated, about 52% of men and nearly 65% of women have claimed to feel judged by others at the gym due to their physical appearance. Naturally, this is enough to keep anyone away from the gym.

Fit Fam has garnered ample community-bonding opportunities for anyone wanting to get into fitness without the aggravation and with a supportive group of students that has your back every step of the way.

In semesters past, Fit Fam has hosted aerial classes, hikes on the Sleeping Giant and spin classes outside of York Hill’s Rocky Top Student Center to make the sometimes daunting fitness experience all the more fun for anyone, from the expert to the beginner.

“(Fit Fam) is a good environment for people who need help or advice or reassurance,” Houle said. “Because a lot of people who are starting out, they don’t know if they’re doing it right, and they don’t want to embarrass themselves in public and it’s a hard thing to (workout) in such an open environment.”

Though many students can’t always make it to every get-together Fit Fam has to offer, the organization aims to expand its reach with students by incorporating weekly fitness challenges on the organization’s Instagram (@qu_fitfam) feed.

In addition to Fit Fam’s growing impact as a community, the organization motivates anyone to work on their physical well-being in a fun and creative way on their own time.

Balancing fitness with a busy schedule for students can be extraordinarily challenging. From demanding internships, jobs and classes, finding the time to focus on your mental, physical and emotional health can be all the more difficult.

Houle explained that prioritizing your mental health is equally important to your other daily activities for maximum success in anything you have to put your mind into.

“If your mental health isn’t here, then your academics and anything else, isn’t going to follow,” Houle said. “My advice would be, get your school schedule set, and then find out when you can make the gym, and then make that into your schedule, too, because having a routine is the biggest part of it.”

Fit Fam is not just another fitness organization, according to Houle, it’s a place where students seek an on-campus resource for better help and companionship while being a part of an encouraging community of like-minded people.

“If you’ve ever thought about going to the gym, maybe come to our club or any of our meetings or events that we hold and meet some other like-minded people that want to do the same thing,” Thibodeau said. ”And it’s easiest, honestly, to go to the gym with a partner, because when you’re starting out they hold you accountable. So you know, if you meet someone here, maybe you’ll meet a lifelong friend or partner.”