Patricia Nieberg/Contributing Photographer Members of Pretty Girls Sweat participated in a group hike on Friday evening. The group, a chapter of the national organization, aims to foster confidence and create bonds through fitness.
 Trekking through mud and encountering the occasional reptile may seem like an unpleasant way to spend a Friday evening, but for the women of Pretty Girls Sweat, hikes like these are a chance to bond and get fit together.

One member played music while the rest of the group danced through the trees and shouted encouragement to keep the workout fun and to distract them from the pain. This hike, which occurred on Sept. 15, was one of the club’s weekly workouts, referred to as “sweat shows.” Every sweat show begins with a pledge.

“[We] pledge to be true to yourself, be true and kind to others and to love yourself and be unique to who you are,” said Dasia Jones, treasurer of Pretty Girls Sweat and a junior majoring in accounting. “It’s about empowering yourself and empowering others around you.”

Pretty Girls Sweat came to Binghamton University in the fall of 2015 and was chartered by the Student Association in May 2017. Since then, the club has grown to dozens of members who either come to sweat shows weekly, or whenever they’re available. While membership is flexible — the group has roughly 400 students on their Listserv — passionate members call their peers “sisters.”

BU’s chapter is part of a larger organization founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Aeshia DeVore Branch in an effort to support Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.

Pretty Girls Sweat has a mission to promote healthy lifestyles for women through sisterhood, and according to Adonya Humphrey, public relations chair for the club and a junior majoring in business administration, the club also helps people break out of their shells with their warm and friendly attitudes.

“Everyone is so encouraging,” Humphrey said. “I think if you’re more of a shy person, [Pretty Girls Sweat] helps you get past that.”

Member Madjena Joseph, a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, appreciates that the events — from yoga to group runs — are open to everyone.

“My favorite part is that everyone is really inclusive,” Joseph said. “Nobody is here to judge anyone and you can always invite your friends to come. It’s very important for all of us to be healthy.”

The group has also collaborated with other organizations on nonworkout events, including “The Value of Nutrition” with the MALIK fraternity, “Love the Skin You’re In” with BU’s Eating Awareness Committee and “Working on Me” with Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate.

“They make it possible for other women to be empowered to work out,” Joseph said. “It really helps people to flourish and blossom into who they are. I feel like even my friends on the e-board, I’ve seen each of them grow. We all have become a community.”

Although the club is focused on fitness and empowerment for women, they do host co-ed workout events with other organizations and groups for everyone to be a part of. Last year their event, “Survival of the Prettiest,” was co-hosted by the BU men’s basketball team as a team event and offered a grand prize of $200 with workout stations that involved jumping over small hurdles, completing three-legged races and more.

“I think what we do differently is that we make it fun,” Jones said. “Yes, we are working out, which some people could be turned off by. [But] I think we create an environment that’s so inviting.”

Yaa Takyiwaa, the president of the organization and a senior double-majoring in integrative neuroscience and comparative literature, explained that in addition to cultivating sisterhood, the group is also breaking gender stereotypes.

“We want to empower women to live a healthy and active lifestyle,” Takiywaa said. “We want to change the stigma that women shouldn’t sweat.”