WST – U of T's Newest Club for Women

Edited by Olivia Spahn-Vieira  

Women Stronger Together (WST) is the newest club for women’s health and wellness on campus. I had the privilege of interviewing Marilena Dialynas-Vatsis and Rhidita Saha, the founders of WST, for everything you need to know about the club. 

    

  1. What exactly is WST?

    WST is a brand new club which began in 2021. It has a place for everyone with any level of experience in athletics. It is a positive community for some to learn, some to teach, and all to grow in their health & wellness journey. People can either sign up for a mentor/mentee position or a buddy program. Mentors and mentees meet over Zoom, or their decided virtual-meeting platform, to work on themselves together while the mentor takes the lead in teaching. In the buddy program, members also virtually connect and workout together, or apart. The buddy system is to keep people in-check with their fitness goals and be held accountable to workout.

 

  1. Why did you two decide to start WST?

The thought behind WST is that health is for everyone! It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete or have never stepped inside a gym, people with all levels of experience have a place in the club. Marilena and Rhidita wanted to create a welcoming environment to encourage people to stay motivated, especially in lockdown.

    

  1. When did you start WST? How long was the process of getting it off the ground?

    The process of getting WST up and running took a few months. WST all started over a phone call between Marilena and Rhidita. In October, around the time of Reading Week, Rhidita and Marilena were serious about starting WST. In December, they began to accumulate executive members and create the name and logo. In the beginning of January, the club was approved. By the time the club was approved, registration forms were ready to go. Four weeks of open registration passed and the first meeting with members occurred on February 18th. Now, members are meeting with their pairing to workout together. 

 

  1. Can you give a bit more detailed general overview of what members of the club do?

    A person who signs up to be a mentee is willing to be guided by a person who signs up to be a mentor. A mentor guides their mentee in a variety of activities, some including: workout plans, recipes, and mindfulness exercises. The fitness buddies are more for people who want to be held accountable to a workout schedule to stick to and make new friends. Fitness buddies can make plans in advance, or just let the other know they’re working out with a fun workout selfie. 

 

  1. How many members are a part of the club? 

    In the four weeks that registration was open, WST accumulated over 100 members. 

 

  1. With the restrictions of COVID-19 and not being able to reach out to people in person, how have you spread the word about WST and gained members?

    Through social media campaigning, WST received a lot of support; their account has over 1, 600 followers on Instagram (@wstuoft). WST reached out to their executives and different clubs at U of T to repost their stories and posts, which helped gain them their following. 

 

  1. What were the easiest and hardest parts of starting WST?

    There were two easy aspects to starting WST. The first was coming up with the creative aspects of the club, such as the name and logo; the second was the amazing team of executives. Rhidita and Marilena expressed their joy with how dedicated and hard-working the team has been. 

    There were a few difficult pieces in putting together WST. When first starting the club, Marilena and Rhidita expected a club made up of about 20 members, they didn’t expect over 100! One of the most difficult parts of starting WST was adjusting to the high number of members. Another hard part of starting the club was working out the logistics and waiting for the approval from ULife. 

 

  1. What are you hoping for for WST in the future?

    Reaching more people in the U of T community is definitely something Marilena and Rhidita are looking forward to. When starting again next fall, they are hoping to have registration open for a longer amount of time over the summer to reach more people who care about their personal health and helping others along their journeys. In the fall, Rhidita and Marilena are hoping to provide a CCR for being a member (currently though, members can still add WST to their resume and use Rhidita and Marilena as a reference).

 

  1. … and in a COVID-19 free future?

    There are many things to look forward to in a COVID-19 free future! Some adjustments the club will make are in-person workouts and meetings, and more in-person events including expert panelists who will speak about women’s health. More exciting in-person events which will take place will be for members to bond, get to know each other, and make new friends.  

 

  1. What are your favourite ways to work on yourself – in terms of health and wellness?

    Marilena enjoys walking her dog, listening to podcasts and music, and self-care. One of her favourite self-care routines is taking spa nights to herself with bath bombs and face masks. 

    Rhidita enjoys spending time outside with her younger siblings, whether it be walks, bike rides, or pulling them in a wagon. She has began teaching herself to cook healthier meals. Her favourites are salads filled with a ton of different things including quinoa, beans, and different veggies.

 

If you’re a woman at U of T interested in bettering your health and mind while making new friends, be sure to get involved in this amazing new program! Make sure to follow @wstuoft on Instagram and show your support for this amazing club!