Spot Me, a weightlifting program

Spot Me is a lifting program that pairs experienced weightlifters with students that have never lifted before. Clients are given a workout and shown how to do the workout in Stephens Fitness Center. From Summer 2019-Winter 2020, Spot Me paired 45 students new to weightlifting with an instructor for a weightlifting session.

87% of students said that their session was 5/5 stars helpful. (The other 13% answered with 4 stars).

The program goal is to help students make weightlifting (strength training) a part of their workouts, as part of a lifelong commitment to caring for their minds and bodies. That means

Spot Me has the potential to make the weight room, an athlete-oriented, male-oriented space, more accessible for all genders. It challenges a 21st century notion of beauty that is fixated on immutable things like bone structure and body size and instead teaches people to prize strength and progress, which are inherently mutable things. In the weightlifting space, all have a chance to achieve merit because all are evaluated on the basis of something they can tangibly work towards: their strength.

"Spot Me has already had a measured impact on its participants and has the potential to engage students in enhancing their health and well-being and more deeply considering gender and ability in the gym."
-- TigerWell, Princeton's Health and Wellbeing Initiative

I am the founder and director of Spot Me. Here is how the program came to be.

One of many design thinking exercises that I had to complete to conceptualize my research.

Spot Me began in a Design Thinking class taught by Dr. Sheila Pontis. I explored the question, "Why don't women lift in the gym?"

After researching, iterating on solutions, and prototyping (all part of the Design Thinking methodology), Spot Me took its current form, an on-the-ground weightlifting program that emphasizes person-to-person interaction in the gym.

I developed the solution to the question, "Why don't women lift in the gym?" according to a persona called Selena the p-setter.

In May 2019 (mostly for fun), I pitched the concept of the program at Princeton Research Day for the 90-second pitch format and won a Gold Award. That same Spring, my Design Thinking class ended. I happened to be living on campus that summer for my internship and found the perfect opportunity to implement a pilot version of the program at Dillon Gym, Princeton's main rec gymnasium. I reached out to Campus Recreation to get their partnership.

My Gold Award from Princeton Research Day

I quickly realized that this program needed some kind of automated emailing and scheduling system to send reminders to students about their sessions and ask them to fill out follow-up surveys. To make this system, I programmed in Google Apps Script (a beefed-up version of Javascript) and Google Drive tools. I used a Google Forms system to capture feedback, setting a foundation for capturing quantitative metrics.

In December 2019, I began building a relationship with TigerWell, Princeton's Health and Wellbeing Initiative, to apply for a Partnership Grant that would expand the scope of the program and shore up its quality. TigerWell replied to the Grant proposal with enthusiasm, asking if they could increase the duration and monetary amount of the Partnership Gramt. By February, we finalized a grant of $9,550 to be awarded to Spot Me for three semesters.