A new study found that almost three quarters of women feel uncomfortable in the gym.
Sports nutrition brand DNA Lean surveyed 400 women and found that 73 percent of them felt uncomfortable while exercising. The most common problem women faced was being stared at, with 91 percent of women experiencing this.
But that’s not all – many women receive inappropriate comments, are touched without consent, filmed without consent, and even followed home for going to the gym.
The pandemic didn’t stop that. Now that the gyms are open again, women still can’t get on with their workouts in peace. For a special tab report, I spoke to some students about their experiences. they told me Their legs had been inappropriately touched, men had attended their workouts uninvited, and kept showing them the machines. The constant discomfort at the gym has led many women to either go to women-only gyms or to leave the gym altogether.
For many women, going to the gym is an essential and enjoyable part of their week. Be it to meet up with friends during a spin class, work on a weightlifting PB, or to improve your mood. And yet, for many, the experience is often shrouded in discomfort, anxiety, and fear.
But it’s not just in the actual gym that women experience training-related complaints. Women are often called on the way to the gym about their outfits and videos often appear on TikTok in which men criticize the exercises or make fun of them. The fear of women is high even before they have even entered the gym. And that fear is becoming even more apparent with the new TikTok trend of training plans for shy girls. The videos by women for women are training plans that involve doing as little exercise as possible in the gym, using equipment, or introducing exercises that do not involve stepping into the free weight area, which is often the most populated by men. It’s a sad reality that in order to feel safe and comfortable, we have to constantly change our plans and time at the gym.
The Tab spoke to a number of students who felt unsafe during their time at the gym and are now unsure of the role the gym will play in their lives.
20-year-old Megan was followed from the gym on her way home. In her freshman year, Megan regularly went to the gym, but during one particular session she noticed that an older man was watching her workout. “I didn’t pay much attention to it, but found it a little strange,” she said.
As she walked out of the gym, Megan found that she was followed by the same man. In a move many girls are familiar with, Megan made a few strange turns towards the bus stop and found that the man was still following her. Realizing that she was being persecuted, she got on “a random bus to get away from it.”
Megan is now in her third year of college and is only now feeling comfortable going back to the gym. She said she was taking it “week after week” but it didn’t help when she was beeped on her way to the gym. Megan’s story while alarming, is not unique.
Anna was working out in a 24-hour gym just before lockdown last year when she realized a man was taking her in. Anna began to lower the lens of his camera and he “looked awkward, blushed bright red and put the phone down, then walked away from the device without using it.” It was clear he was taking it, and yet Anna said that she would have felt too shy to confront him if he hadn’t moved on. Anna said the experience made her feel like she couldn’t train on her own, and since she lives in a big city, exercising outdoors doesn’t feel like a safe option either.
21-year-old Sophie describes a disturbing experience where a man in her gym watched her on sets and came to her but said nothing.
She said, “I was in the free weights area of my varsity gym and the guy was on the bench in the area next to me. He spent his entire set looking at me (he had to turn his head all the way because his bench was pointing that way) and then between sets he would get up and walk to my little space where my bench was and just look at me or walked around my bank, but kept looking at me. “
Sophie said that in the end she left because “I was so uncomfortable”. She continued to go to the gym, but now she feels “intimidated and nervous about going into the free weights area” and usually stays in the women’s section of her gym.
These stories are just a few of the many I received when asking our female readers about their experiences with feeling insecure in the gym. And while they haven’t done anything wrong, they and many others need to change their behavior in order to feel safe and enjoy their time exercising.
Megan now trains mostly at home and Anna hardly ever goes to the gym on her own.
And not only women notice that, but also some men. Ravi Davda used to be a personal trainer before founding Rockstar Marketing.
He said, “A lot of my clients were female. In fact, I would say 80 or 90 percent. Why? Many of them felt uncomfortable in a gym. Especially when you go into the free weights area.
“You all knew weight training was good for you, but most of them would never do it if they weren’t with me. I think that’s why they paid me – to make them feel supported in getting in there. ”Again, it’s women who change their routines and pay extra to feel safe.
An average PT session can cost between £ 30 and £ 80. So it’s no wonder that only women’s gyms appear everywhere. You can train without the presence of men and do not have to pay the additional cost of a personal trainer as a bodyguard. You just have to go to TikTok and see the hashtag “womensonlygym” with almost 20 million views to recognize the desire for a safe place.
Of course, that’s not the only reason gyms are women-only – some find it important to exercise only with women for cultural and religious reasons.
Again, while creating gyms for women can be a great thing, when it comes to feeling uncomfortable around men in the gym, it is the responsibility of women to come up with a new solution to feeling safe . Men don’t change their behavior and gyms aren’t set up to make everyone feel safe.
Trainer Kate Meier suggests that gyms consider how they are equipped with equipment, offer classes for women only, and train staff to deal with potential problems.
She said, “Most likely, any major gym will at some point come across a member who“ sneaks out ”other members.
“If a woman feels that she is in an uncomfortable and potentially unsafe situation, she needs to know that she can let the staff know and that the staff will act quickly and appropriately.”
Whatever the reason or how often you go, we all deserve to be safe and comfortable in the gym, but this just isn’t the reality for most women. This goes beyond feeling intimidated in the gym where you feel awkward or embarrassed about the workouts you are doing for fear of being judged. Gym intimidation, while uncomfortable, is an internal struggle that people of any gender can experience. As a woman in the gym, feeling insecure due to direct male actions is far too common and needs to change.
All pictures via Unsplash
• Girls share bad experiences with male GPs who prove that some just don’t understand women’s bodies
• Girls share the sexist BS that they endured working behind a bar
• Girls share what they would do if there were no men on earth for 24 hours