A new Facebook group has been gaining popularity among the women of Greene since August. Organized and founded by local UVA graduate Britney Huff, Greene Women Moving Together organizes group meet-ups for walking, running and health-centered motivation.

According to the group’s mission statement, the goal is “to bring women together, get our bodies moving, and build uplifting relationships as we pursue the goal of balanced and healthy lifestyles. In this group—both on social media and at related in-person activities—judgment, criticism, and other negativities will not be tolerated. This is a safe space for women of all ages and abilities to come, learn, share, and grow!”

After working through her own personal weight loss, fitness and mental health journey in 2018, Huff says she started the group to help others who might be going through similar situations.

“Over the course of the last couple of years I’ve lost 75 pounds and feel great physically but also have had a lot of mental changes and growth and really just wanted to be able to share that experience with people needing it in our area, whether it be someone who’s trying to lose weight or someone who just really needs the accountability and support of a group of women,” Huff said.

When Huff began her journey she felt like there were not many places to go to work out in the area without driving into Charlottesville. Luckily, she found her own “safe space;” a group of supportive coworkers through her job at Crutchfield, which offers subsidized fitness and health programs for its employees.

“I found that safe space, but not everyone has that in their workplace or group of friends, and we certainly don’t all have access to the knowledge and resources you need to be successful in attaining those goals,” Huff explained. “So I figured we needed to bring these women in Greene together and help them reach their goals in a safe and positive environment.”

The group launched in August and had regular walking/running events with 10- 20 people each week who met at the track behind William Monroe Middle School. Although forced to take a break in November and December due to the lack of daylight on weeknight evenings and cold temperatures, this week the group began meeting on Saturday mornings to walk at the track, and they hope to soon have more than 20 regular walkers.

“There’s a lot of dog lovers in our group, so some days we would actually walk all the way around the school or even through downtown Stanardsville so that dogs could be part of the group,” Huff said. “We had a couple of sessions that met at the Greene County Community Park and there’s interest in getting a couple of sessions throughout the year at Preddy Creek Park for more of a trail running or hiking, more outdoorsy-type session, which would be dog friendly as well.”

Some women hike with young kids, and often will find themselves hanging out with other moms post-workout as the kids play on the playground.

“My goal for women that come and participate in our group, regardless of whether they come and walk the whole time or run the whole time or do a little of both or even if they’re not able to finish the entire session, is that they feel accomplished just for showing up and that they are excited to come back,” Huff said.

For those with challenging schedules, Huff tries to post at-home workout plans on the group webpage along with motivational quotes or videos. As the main goal of the group is to provide a supportive environment, the hope is to be able to expand the group sessions to accommodate more schedules while also fostering the camaraderie between members to allow them to meet at other times outside of group scheduling.

“Encouraging the women in the group to grab a phone number from someone that you don’t know in the group, especially if you find that your schedules line up well … even when there isn’t a session or a group thing going on, text your buddy and go up to the track and work out or go to the house and do a quick circuit workout or even if you can’t meet up, have that encouragement and that motivation and accountability from someone in the group,” she said.

In addition to holding her own group workout sessions, Huff has counted on expertise from local personal trainer Kelly Jane Chivvis, who offers in home and remote training classes in the area. After Chivvis shared the group’s information with her fitness class, ten more people joined in the group, and Huff also encourages those in the group to check out Kelly Jane Fitness's events through Facebook.

As for 2020 goals, Huff hopes to put together a team to participate in the Charlottesville Women’s Four-Miler, which raises money for breast cancer awareness and research. Huff, who has participated in the event for the past three years, says having goals to work toward as a group helps with motivation.

“Beginning in late February or March I will be offering sessions that specifically work participants up to a 5K using a ‘couch to 5K’ training plan. Normally when we meet, there are folks that walk, folks that walk and run and then there are folks that run the whole time, but everyone kind of goes at their own pace and then we meet as a group at the beginning and the end,” Huff said. “My goal for the 5K training plan is really to find folks that want to start from ground zero who cannot walk a full mile … and work through this program together with a goal of doing a 5K either in June or July of this year.”

Huff graduated from UVA in December while working full time and organizing the group. Now that she’s done with school, she looks forward to having the time to really build membership and create a positive environment for those looking to join. She also hopes to pursue certification in personal training, more out of a personal interest than for her career.

You can find Greene Women Moving Together on Facebook or reach out to Huff directly. “If you’re ever able to or interested in going outside of group times, I’m always looking for a walking buddy,” she added.

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