Everyone dreams of traveling abroad and seeing the world. But not everyone actually has the opportunity. For Jessica Whitt, Assistant Director of Fitness Services and Instruction at Washington State University’s University Recreation, this dream is becoming a reality.
In December, Jessica will follow her passion for teaching fitness by coaching at the first Pink Gloves Boxing training camp in Dubai. Pink Gloves Boxing is a program that encourages teamwork, community-building, and personal growth through high-intensity boxing movements.
“This is more than just a fitness class; this camp is the empowerment of women. We aren’t looking at ourselves in the mirror, we’re not trying to be skinny, or have six pack abs, we are just trying to empower one another and have fun,” says Jessica.
The opportunity to travel to Dubai and teach women to become Pink Gloves Boxing instructors is one that is very close to Jessica’s heart. Every summer for ten years, Jessica traveled to Dubai to visit her father. “I knew Dubai,” says Jessica, “before it was as big as it is today—it is completely cosmopolitan now. There were no islands, no huge sky rises; it was pretty bare bones,” Jessica says.
Jessica’s opportunity to travel to Dubai came about after she learned that Garret Garrels and Nick Milodragovich—founders of Pink Gloves Boxing—were planning to host a training camp there. Garret and Nick had just returned from Kuwait and their first-ever Pink Gloves Boxing training camp. Jessica reached out to them about becoming an instructor with Pink Gloves Boxing in Dubai and the founders agreed to make it happen.
The strong partnership between WSU UREC and the Pink Gloves Boxing program has been ongoing for several years now. It first began when Garret and Nick attended their first NIRSA Annual Conference in 2011. During the conference, they met University Recreation’s Director of Programming, Joanne Greene. The idea of building a supportive community of women who are committed to bettering themselves around fitness immediately intrigued Joanne.
“We are always looking for new programming for our students, especially programs that really meet our philosophy of being inclusive, goal-oriented, and safe, and that also encourage community building,” Joanne says. “We really like the idea of having a group of people support each other by providing them with an incentive to come and adding to the social benefit of recreation.” WSU took a chance to partner with Pink Gloves Boxing and became the second university to implement a program, and they became the first campus to provide participants with boxing equipment free of charge.
Jessica believes traveling to Dubai will provide a learning experience that will help her better create even more inclusive programming at UREC. “[This trip] will give me something I can take back to WSU and see how we can expand our programs our students,” she says.
Meeting new people and learning about their stories is the reason Jessica Whitt loves the fitness industry. “Maybe they will find something like Pink Gloves Boxing that will help them through some really difficult times in their life,” Jessica says.
Jessica says there will be follow-up training sessions in Dubai. Her goal is to do her part to help Pink Gloves establish a solid training camp for future instructors to build upon.
Photo courtesy of WSU’s Administrative Services Marketing.
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