To all the movers, the makers, the hustlers, the shakers…
Those who shout loud, who stand strong, and when needed those who quietly move on…
To those who build empires, move mountains, push boundaries, raise babies, make memories and refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer…
You are the ladies paving the way for a new generation, who are ready to play…
Stand Tall and stand proud for all that you are…
Not what the media says you should be or could be…
But the you that is here, standing now, tall, strong, and amazing…
Women have come so far in sports and fitness and it’s by no accident. Women throughout the last 125 years have been the catalyst of change for inclusion and participation of girls in sport. If women 45 years ago lifted weights they were considered weird, it’s a shame that they never had the opportunity to exemplify and bear witness to the true physical and mental strength of their bodies.
“It is a shame for a woman to grow old without ever seeing the strength and beauty of which her body is capable.” -Socrates
Alas, good news! Because of some absolutely incredible women throughout history who have raised their voices, participated, and won events in sports, we have the opportunity to show up every day to places like Vie Athletics.
We get to train like the athletes we are and have an absolute blast doing it! Moreover, we get to break societal boundaries every day and ultimately change the way women view their bodies and health. Vie Girls get to take pride and excitement in what we are capable of accomplishing. We’re proud of doing challenging workouts, sore muscles, having a fitness and sport-minded community, and we love falling in love over and over again with fitness in ways women have always dreamed possible. Women who have come before us, that we will highlight below, are celebrated because they are the pioneers that have stood up for our ability as women to have fun, to work out hard, sweat a lot, and to have amazingly cute outfits doing it that compliment our sport and mobility (shout out to Lululemon – you da real MVP).
Please join us in recognizing the following women for being the pioneers, trailblazers, and founders of the way we partake in sports today. Some names you may or may not recognize, but each woman has earned the right to be celebrated during International Women’s Day, 2018.
Margaret Abbott “First Olympic Female Athlete”
Abbott was the first American woman in history to participate in an Olympic Event at the Paris World’s Fair Games in 1900. And guess what? SHE WON! Believe it or not, though, she went her entire life not knowing she won an Olympic medal. In the early history of the Olympics, events were contested over a period of five months. She was in Paris to study art and entered the Olympic women’s golf tournament thinking it was ‘just another competition’ not knowing it was a program of the Games. University of Florida professor, Paula Welch, made contact with Abbott’s children decades later notifying the family of her award. The Rio Games of 2016 was the 1st time golf was included in the Olympic program since 1904; the 1st time women’s individual golf was contested at the games since Margaret Abbott won the event, in 1900.
Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton “The Reason Why Women Lift Weights”
In 1947, all of 5’1” and 115 lbs Abbye was a solid stack of muscle. She not only was one of the very first known gym owners for women (on Sunset Boulevard, mind you), writer of the column “Barbelles” for Strength and Health Mag, and orchestrator of some of the first recorded weightlifting competitions for women in the United States AND she boasted personal records including a 135 LB clean and jerk, 100 LB press, and 105 LB snatch… IN 1947! Her nickname was Pudgy because she stacked on a few extra pounds and ended up taking up lifting weights, turning her ‘pudge’ into muscle. The nickname stuck, and she embraced it.
“People used to say that if women worked out, they would become masculine-looking or wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. We just laughed because we knew they were wrong.”
Virne Beatrice “Jackie” Mitchell “Pitcher Who Struck Out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig”
Ms. Mitchell, a 17-year-old southpaw took the mound against the New York Yankees on April 2, 1931, striking out BOTH Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. She reigns as the MLB’s first girl pitcher, the second woman to play organized baseball behind Lizzie Arlington, with box scores to prove it. This was the highlight of Jackie’s baseball career. The positive? Jackie went against the grain and paved the way for women who share the same dreams and aspirations as she once held. She was a pioneer in baseball, an inspiration, and worthy of all celebration.
Wilma Rudolph “Fastest Woman in the World”
The National Women’s History Museum recognizes Wilma, despite being told she would never walk again as a child, as one of the most resilient and inspirational women in not only Track & Field on a world scale but for women in all fields. She was 1 of 22 children and was born on June 23, 1940. She survived bouts of polio and scarlet fever, forcing her to wear a brace on her injured leg. Rudolph, a natural born athlete, rose up against her physical ailments and adversities. She became an All-American basketball high school athlete, a Collegiate athlete and competed in the games at the age of 16.
Wilma became the first American woman to win 3 gold medals in track and field. In the same Olympic game she broke at least three world records. She was coined one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century and titled ‘the fastest woman in the world. After being inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame she won the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award in 1961. Rudolph was also the first woman to ever receive the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Silver Anniversary Award. The remainder of her life was dedicated to helping amateur track and field stars rise up against their own adversities and become great.
“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion; the potential for greatness lives within each of us”
Karyn Marshall “First Woman In History to Clean & Jerk over 300lbs”
Dr. Karyn Marshall is a chiropractor. Sports, fitness, exercise, and nutrition have long been her driving forces in life. Karyn used to be the strongest woman in the world. Marshall hailed as a world-record holder in the sport of weightlifting, setting over 60 world and American records. In 1985, she was the first woman to ever Clean and Jerk over 300 pounds; 303 pounds to be exact. In the year 2011, Karyn found a lump in her left breast and was diagnosed with stage IIA Triple Negative Breast Cancer. No longer was she lifting weight for the world, but the weight of the world came down on her. After successfully completing treatment and she got back into lifting weights. Marshall is a pioneering woman and an exemplary voice for all women in powerlifting and functional fitness.
Surya Bonaly “The Back-Flipping Black Figure Skater Who Changed the Sport Forever”
French figure skater, Surya Bonaliy, performed the unthinkable and absolutely remarkable: a perfect, single footed backflip while ice skating. She became a three-time world champ silver medalist and three-time Olympian in her career, but more importantly, she stood for what she believed was right. The backflip became her trademark and was warned against performing the illegal move during the Olympics, but she did it anyway, making it “the most elaborate expletive in Olympic history” as quoted by the Hamilton Spectator. Surya and her backflipping performances became a cultural touchstone, making a statement as not only an extremely accomplished skater but also “as a black athlete in one of the world’s whitest sports”. She remains the only athlete to ever complete the move at the Olympic Games.
Shirley Webb “I’m 78 and I can deadlift 245 lbs x 3”
Shirley is a more modern day example of a pioneering woman in sport and fitness, specifically Power Lifting. She didn’t pick up a weight until she was in her 70s. She surely didn’t spend a day in the gym before that, either. One day she was encouraged by her daughter to do both. She changed her life forever.
“When I go to the gym and have a workout for an hour… I feel so much better than I walked in. I couldn’t walk up stairs or get myself up off the floor before weightlifting. My trainer told me to pick up weight, and I said, I can’t and I never will. I deadlifted 245lbs and now my goal is to deadlift 300lbs. I will inspire others to get fit, no matter how old or young. My message: join a gym, you don’t have to lift heavy weight, just aim to improve your body overall.”
Vie Girl, we want to encourage you to take the legacy of the women set forth before you and run with wild abandon. Don’t ever give up on yourself and don’t ever let frustration stand in your way. Don’t let fear get in your way and definitely don’t let time get in your head. All we encourage you to do is this: prioritize your health, your happiness, and your fitness. Have fun in finding all the many ways you can move, you can lift, and that you can compete.
It does not matter how many times you have to try or how long achieving your goals and aspirations may take. Your only competition is yourself, Vie girl, find your fire. Let the light that you discover within yourself so bright that you bring light, encouragement, and inspiration to all women you encounter. That is what International Women’s Day means to Vie. Today, and always, we promise to celebrate you.
May these women inspire you to discover that you too are fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even you can hold yourself back because your passions burn brighter than your fears. Be a beauty and a beast. Don’t fear the fire, Vie Girl, become it.