New lifting club resonates with students on campus


Christian Larson

The Jacked Rabbits Lifting Club members.

Jacob Boyko, News Editor

As of late as last week, the specifics were still being worked on, the schedule wasn’t exact and new ideas were still being concocted through conversation. All SDSU students Nick Thompson and Gavin Baker had were a clever club name and a considerate mission; and that has been enough to resonate with over 40 student members across campus. 

The Jacked Rabbits Lifting Club hosted their first meeting in the Student Union Monday night, which attracted about 35 students. 

According to Thompson and Baker, the club will teach students skills that will benefit them in the gym and in life. Members can learn safe and effective workout techniques, help members create personalized workout programs and teach nutrition information. The club will teach these topics with the help of speakers selected from across campus and the community, including nutritionists, dietitians and exercise science experts. 

For Thompson, a senior exercise science major and the club’s president, creating a fitness club has been a longtime ambition—the initial idea was brainstormed with a friend during Thompson’s freshman year at Augsburg University. 

“We were both like, ‘Yeah, we should start a lifting club and just get people in the gym and teach them how to do all the lifts,’” Thompson said. “We never really got a chance to start. I came here sophomore year and saw that there was no lifting club here either, which always kind of surprised me that they weren’t more popular.”

This year, thanks to the support of Baker, a sophomore physics major and the club’s vice president, Thompson’s ambition has been set in motion.

“We met during [Community Assistant] training this school year, so we had known each other for maybe 48 hours when he mentioned the club to me,” Baker said. 

When Thompson told Baker about the idea, his response was direct: “You might as well do it.”

“Getting people to the gym was big for me because I’ve had a lot of people where I’ve offered to take them lifting, and they say they’re scared or embarrassed,” Thompson said.

That mindset resonates personally with Baker, who started working out during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’ll be honest, I was picked on a lot for my weight,” Baker said. “I was 6’1”, 145 lbs. Since then, I’ve put on 45 lbs.”

The club’s constitution, approved by the Student Association Sept. 20, states the club’s purpose as providing “students with the tools and resources to feel comfortable and confident in the gym and in life,” as well as creating a “judgement-free experience for members where all questions are welcome and advice is offered when desired.”

The first meeting was a success for Thompson and Baker with about 35 club members in attendance—seven of them girls. 

For twins Georgia and Hannah Kuehn, the most compelling aspect of the club is the opportunity to meet others with similar interests.  

“We hope to get other lifting friends,” Hannah Kuehn said. 

Andrew Sheehan said hearing what other people are doing for work outs and connecting with them was his reason for joining. 

When Thompson told Jake Rosenstengel about his idea for the club in September, Rosenstengel was immediately interested. 

“I’m hoping to learn more about dieting and getting into a healthier routine,” Rosenstengel said at the meeting. 

During the meetings, the final few minutes are reserved for members to share their achievements and get recognized for the work they’ve put in. 

“Last October, I started lifting to be skinny. This year, I started lifting to be strong,” a female member shared with the group.

Other members shared their squat weights, weight gains, losses and history with lifting. 

“Lots of people use lifting as a stress reliever, and I know it’s legitimately the best part of my day because I don’t have to think about anything outside of it,” Thompson said. “Anytime you have an outlet for stress, it’s essentially like a form of therapy, because generally therapy is getting emotions and feelings out, and if you’re allowed to have an hour, hour and a half per day where you don’t have to think about outside things, … it’s going to lead to a lot of self-confidence.”

Baker agrees.

“Besides physical changes, for me, some of the biggest impacts I’ve seen is self-confidence,” Baker said.  “And it definitely acts as a form of therapy. It has helped me in the past get over certain hills in my life that I needed to climb over.”

The club promotes body positivity, so making fun of others can result in expulsion, according to Baker. 

“We absolutely will not tolerate any harassment,” Baker said. “Everyone has to start somewhere. Saying to someone, ‘wow, you’re overweight,’ or ‘you’re skinnier than a toothpick;’ that’s not tolerated. Everyone has a goal they’re trying to reach.” 

While the name “Jacked Rabbits Lifting Club” implies heavy weights and strength training, Thompson and Baker say that the club promotes any type of fitness. 

“If someone is strictly into running, but they’re worried about going to the gym, and it gets cold in the winter and it’s hard to go outside and they don’t want to go to the gym where it’s crowded…We would have somebody to hang around near them so they don’t feel so nervous,” Thompson said.

The goal for the club is to be able to serve as many needs for members as it can, including training around injuries. The club will appoint mentors based on specialization and skills to work with groups working to accomplish different goals.

“It’s for all shapes and sizes and all experience levels,” Thompson said. “If someone never once touched a weight in their life, never done anything athletic, I don’t care. We can always start somewhere.”