Sweat Like a Girl

Sweat Like a Girl

I am awesome.

At least, this is what I’ve just been told. It’s moments after the Supergirl class at Sweat Like a Girl has ended. In the past hour, I have performed an unfathomable amount of burpees and squats, consumed 40 ounces of water, and, perhaps most importantly, been told how awesome I am by Heather Gidusko, the gym’s owner.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t want to like burpees, but Heather kept yelling about how great they are—and I started to agree with her. If she likes them so much, maybe I kind of like them too.

There’s something special happening in this little gym in Nazareth. Located in an old auto garage and stocked with bicycles snagged from Craigslist, there’s tangible proof present that it’s not what you have, it’s what you make of it, and Heather has managed to capture positivity and motivation inside its walls. Perhaps this is why some 400 women eschew heated pools, saunas, and state-of-the-art equipment offered at other gyms: they’re here because Sweat Like a Girl is where they can be awesome.

A former Eagles cheerleader, the 41-year-old’s energy almost maniacal, and it’s definitely contagious. With a little tough love and a lot of enthusiasm, she is the brains behind Sweat Like a Girl, a no-boys-allowed gym that specializes in group fitness. Heather retired her pompoms in 2001 to start a family, but didn’t lose sight of her passion for fitness. In fact, motherhood only evolved her perception of it.

“As moms of younger children, we tend to get caught up in being a mom 24/7,” Heather, a mother of three, says. That’s why the gym offers babysitting during morning class hours during the week.

“Moms are able to get out of the house and focus on themselves for an hour,” she says. “When they do that, they feel awesome, which will only lead to them being a better mom who has strength in her mind and body for the rest of the day.”

With a degree in kinesiology from West Chester University, she dove headfirst into being a fitness instructor at big-name health clubs while focusing on her new role as a mother, but she soon realized that the mega-gyms just weren’t her jam.

“I got really tired of the corporate scene, and I wanted to make more of an impact on a smaller level,” she says. “I wanted to create a community.”

All she needed was an opportunity.

It happened in the form of a tiny room at Lehigh Valley Sports Academy on Race Street in Allentown. The room came to house Heather’s spirited delivery of a workout, which, well, worked out: she quickly racked up a loyal following.

“A squat is a squat is a squat,” she says. “The movement is the same everywhere. If it’s just a job to you, no one is going to come do your version of a squat.”

After a brief stumble when she discovered that the building was going to be sold, she looked everywhere for a spot and finally settled on her current digs: the industrial-style garage. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is her commitment to creating a safe space for women to work on their fitness.

“I just feel really comfortable teaching women and I love being able to empower women,” Heather says. “Here, you don’t have to worry about anyone approaching you after class in a weird way or eyeing you up when you bend over. A lot of women feel uncomfortable in a gym setting, and they can just exist here and be comfortable.”

Heather was the first person to open a gym in the Lehigh Valley that offered pole fitness, a cardio and strength workout. While mainstream exposure to pole fitness is often that of the entertaining and sexual variety, the athletic ability and stamina required to perform pole-related feats cannot be denied. In 2016, an official application was made to the International Olympic Committee to recognize pole as a sport, and competitions such as the World Pole Sport Championship, U.S. Pole Federation Championship, and Pole Masters Cup Championship take place today. While internationally, pole fitness is not just for women—China’s 2007 National Pole Dancing competition was won by a man—at Sweat Like a Girl, it’s always ladies’ night.

“I knew I was going to be up against some stereotypes regarding the poles, but I didn’t let that stop me—I knew in my heart that offering pole fitness was a great way to offer an incredible form of fitness yet to be offered here,” Heather says. “Pole fitness is an amazing total body workout, and we have a great community of women who applaud each other in our pole classes.”

In addition to this, Heather teaches a 5:15 a.m. bootcamp-style class four days a week. Dubbed “Rise and Grind,” it’s a 30-minute class tailored to women with especially busy lives and demanding schedules. “It’s the only time that they can get their workout in, so I’m here at 5 in the morning for them,” Heather says.

“It’s my goal during each one of my classes to make sure girls are finding their own strength through positive self-talk while working to their fullest physical potential, which will lead them to an awesome feeling of success,” she says.

Sweat Like a Girl also offers yoga, kickboxing, pilates, dance, aerial silks, hoop, spin, and barre workouts—there literally is something for everyone, with modifications for every level of fitness, which is important to Heather.

She believes that a little time in the gym can make an enormous impact on someone’s interactions for the rest of the day. “The goodness felt during a workout can cross over into so many other aspects of our lives,” she says.

Vanity, however, is not an aspect that she’s particularly focused on.

“Never do I say, ‘let’s work on our butts today,’ or ‘let’s do a six-pack workout,’” Heather says. “It’s not about having a six-pack—it’s about having a strong core so that you’re able to do what you want to do in life.”

That is, essentially, the root of Heather’s focus: helping women find the best versions of themselves so that they can live their best lives. “I am honored to be able to share my passion with every person who walks through the doors of Sweat Like a Girl, and I always do my best to help inspire each one to find their awesomeness in class—and out in the world as well,” she says.

Sweat Like a Girl
311 Industrial Dr

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