New St. Thomas fitness club Omega Ti helps women gain muscle, exercise knowledge and build lasting friendships with a community of “strength sisters” that focus on women’s health and wellness in a male-dominated fitness world.
Omega Ti’s sophomore founder Ellen Parkey has a love for fitness, so it’s not surprising that she’s a regular at the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex. While the AARC provides all of the equipment Parkey needs for her daily workouts, one day she realized something was missing.
“As I was resting between sets, I looked around at everyone in my time slot, and I saw that only four of the 20 people present were female,” Parkey said.
This made Parkey wonder, “Where are all my awesome lady lifters at? I knew that they were out there, but how could I connect with them?”
Inspired by her observation, Parkey set out to create Omega Ti. The club caters to female health and wellness, helping women in fitness feel comfortable and supported.
With 80 members joining Omega Ti since its November 2020 debut, the concept has already resonated with St. Thomas women.
“You see these guys in the gym, lifting heavy things, and it can definitely be intimidating,” Omega Ti Program Coordinator Rachel Opsahl said. “When you don’t have a community to fall back on, it can really affect your mental and physical health, so having other females by your side encouraging you in your health and wellness endeavors is so important.”
Omega Ti’s mission is in the name, with Omega meaning “the end” in Greek and Ti being the periodic symbol for the metal titanium. This represents the club’s mission of creating a sisterhood of “strength sisters” who evoke the strong, resilient, versatile, and non-toxic qualities of titanium.
The club promotes a holistic approach to fitness that focuses on mental and physical health. Discussions cover unique aspects of women’s health and wellness that aren’t necessarily a focus for the broader fitness community, like eating disorders, hormones, cycles and proper nutrition.
Parkey knows that “muscley, grunting lifters can be intimidating” for gym newbies, and can keep them from asking questions for fear of being judged, so she wanted to create a place where those insecurities and anxieties could be openly discussed.
“There are social stigmas surrounding physically strong females,” Parkey said. “This club aims to discuss these stigmas and work through the physical, emotional and mental tolls that these societal expectations place on the majority of women in fitness.”
Especially with social media, gym culture and body image ideals can cause women to “lose sight of the bigger health and wellness picture,” according to Opsahl, something she personally experienced during her first year at college.
The club avoids “toxic diet culture” and instead provides a healthier way of thinking about fitness, an aspect that Omega Ti member Liz Thull appreciates.
“Pretty much any woman can attest to struggling with body positivity and body image in a society that is so focused on what you look like, what your size is and what your weight is,” Thull said.
Omega Ti advocates for setting goals unrelated to weight that help women “feel healthy without needing to look a certain way,” Thull said.
“Life is hard and pursuing new goals requires a support system,” Parkey said. “I wanted to create a community where we inspire each other, not compare our strengths and weaknesses.”
The club’s Instagram page, @omega__ti, is currently working to connect Omega Ti members and providing remote encouragement and support. Future activities include guest speakers, group workouts and community events.
Lauren Price can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.