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On Wednesdays, they do hill repeats together. On Fridays, yoga. That’s how it was before social distancing rules came into play last month, and that’s how it remains. For the FastChix Tri Club, being together physically is not required for support and motivation. Instead, members of the club have transitioned seamlessly to supporting each other from afar–Zoom yoga classes, videos taken from a phone mounted on the handlebars of a bike, daily post-workout selfies for accountability. And on every post within their club’s Facebook group, there’s a thread of comments from fellow members:
“Looking good, girl!”
“I’m with you–hills suck! Whoop whoop! Downhills are the best, tho.”
“Way to go! Let’s get it.”
The group is so cohesive, it’s almost easy to forget these workouts are done individually, spaced out in compliance with efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. But this is the very nature of FastChix–a sisterhood of sweat, where women empower women.
“We share our ups and downs, setbacks and triumphs, missteps and accomplishments,” says founder Yvonne Spencer. “We motivate and support each other with kind words, small gestures, and other acts to lift spirits and inspire.”
The group formed in 2015 when Spencer, a member of the Black Triathletes Association, noted triathlon had few women, much less women of color. Recognizing that a lack of support was a key barrier to participation in endurance sports, she set up a Facebook group for women looking to better themselves through running and triathlon. There, people could find information, inspiration, and accountability.
“We created a safe space where women can network and be honest, transparent, and supportive,” says Spencer. “This keeps our FastChix engaged and makes them want to invite their friends to be a part of the sistership.”
In only five years, the group exploded from a small handful of Spencer’s training buddies to 800-plus members, many of whom are active participants in club activities. In addition to an active Facebook group, members meet up at races where they network, celebrate each other, share stories and build new relationships. In past years, these meetups have brought more than 40 women together at races, along with their families and friends. In 2020, more than 100 women signed up to race with FastChix at Rev3 Williamsburg Multisport Festival.
The key to the success of FastChix is the group’s consistently high enthusiasm for every member, whether it’s someone who consistently places on the podium at races or is just starting out. Their mission is “conspire to inspire” all women to be the best version of themselves–whatever form that takes. In doing so, members often find the goalposts get moved in the best way–one member may start out with the aim of simply learning how to swim; soon, she has her sights set on a sprint triathlon. Another member, inspired by the post-ride selfie of a FastChix teammate, plots to move up from riding a metric century to the full 100 miles.
“About a year after joining FastChix, I developed a serious case of FOMO [fear of missing out],” says member Felicia Lopez. “It was the race reports that really got me–they were epic! Women jumping off of perfectly good boats, cycling hundreds of miles across states, running the Rockies. They were fantastic. And now I’m going to jump off a perfectly good boat myself – because of FastChix, I was inspired to sign up to race Escape the Cape.”
Women empowering women–that’s exactly what Spencer envisioned when she started FastChix: “We are sowing seeds that help others recognize their greatness.”