The Barbell Betties Experience
Island Businesses, November 2023

The Barbell Betties Experience

By Josh Thorn

I’m thrilled to introduce you to a program that’s been making waves right here on Vashon Island. It’s not just about fitness, it’s about nurturing strong bonds among women as they navigate life’s changes. Let’s shine a spotlight on VashonStrong’s “Barbell Betties” program, affectionately known as “Fire & Iron” among its members.

A Community of Strength and Support

Barbell Betties is a unique strength program, designed specifically for women experiencing perimenopause and menopause. At first glance, it might seem like just another fitness class, but it’s much more than that. It’s a tight-knit community of women who gather to harness the transformative power of strength training while gracefully maneuvering through the hormonal changes that life throws their way.

The inception of the program was inspired by Betsey Archambault, a prominent Islander known for her leadership in numerous nonprofit organizations. A former member of VashonStrong, she knew from experience that weight training was attractive and rewarding, but also challenging to start because of stressful learning curves and other perceived “barriers to entry.” What sets Barbell Betties apart is its commitment to breaking down these barriers. It’s a place where women discover that weightlifting is not as intimidating as it might seem, thanks to the supportive community around them. 

The Science of Strength

Strength training has long been associated with a myriad of health benefits. These include increased muscle mass, improved bone density, and a revved-up metabolism. For women facing the hormonal fluctuations of menopause and perimenopause, maintaining muscle mass becomes increasingly vital. It’s not just about weight management, but also nurturing overall health and well-being.

However, strength training can be deceptively complex. While it appears straightforward, it requires a significant investment of time and instruction to develop proficiency in technique. It’s a skill in its own right, not merely a test of brute strength. Fortunately, over the past six years, VashonStrong has been cultivating this skill, and its coaches boast diverse athletic backgrounds, spanning Olympic lifting, CrossFit, endurance racing, Jiu Jitsu, mountain biking, gymnastics, and more. 

Building More Than Muscle

The Barbell Betties program, guided by the exceptional trio of coaches – Katie Wolny, Lisa Macleod, and Shannon Seath Meyer – provides a welcoming haven for women to explore their physical potential. They also form deep connections with others who share similar life experiences. This program has been nothing short of a sensation, with every session fully booked. The six-week program format allows women to do a deep dive into the world of weightlifting and then end, or they may sign up again for the next 6-week program and continue to build on their skills and fitness. 

What distinguishes Barbell Betties is its remarkable fusion of strength training and community support. Participants not only master the fundamentals of strength exercises like bench-pressing and deadlifting, but also forge profound connections. It’s a place where the challenges of menopause are met with camaraderie, laughter, and unwavering encouragement.

Joining the Stronger Community

At VashonStrong, we believe in the potency of community, and the strength that emerges when individuals unite to pursue a common objective. Barbell Betties epitomizes this philosophy, helping women build physical strength while fostering an environment where they can lean on one another for support, inspiration, and friendship.

The Barbell Betties program is a testament to the extraordinary transformations that occur when individuals unite to embrace their inner strength and support one another through life’s transitions. It’s more than a fitness class; it’s a celebration of community, empowerment, and the limitless potential that emerges when we uplift each other.

Keep the fire burning and the iron hot! For more information, contact VashonStrong at

November 8, 2023

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