You hear a piercing whistle across the room, today it is brad the frat boys's turn to holler at girls in the gym. Yesterday it was Victor the creepy old guy that occupies the leg extension for an hour, the day before it was a herd of teens migrating from station to station and annoying all in their path. While the gym is advertised as a place of personal growth and communal support...reality is often disappointing.
A survey conducted by barbend.com, an outlet for fitness enthusiasts, suggests that 3/4 of women fall prey to catcalling at least once a week in the gym. Furthermore another 60% of women have altered their training plans to avoid harassment. Many have opted to switch to female only gyms where there is far less judgement and harassment.
"I try to keep my head down and wear baggy clothing, and stay away from men," said Ohio State sophomore, Amanda Williams. Williams had worked out at a commercial gym near her campus. However she chose to leave it behind after experiencing the skewed gender ratio and lack of mask wearing.
"I am very conscious of my form and always feel judged by the people here," she said. "If I was able to perform my workout without random gazes and distractions I think I would have better results. Worrying about male perception is very draining," William's also notes.
While a healthy BMI ranges from 20 to 24, men prefer women with a BMI of 19, which is borderline unhealthy. This toxic beauty standard is being enforced subconsciously on women every time a women steps in the gym.
While there have been attempts by corporate gyms to create a more welcoming environment, there is still very much work to be done. Planet fitness is a prime example, advertising itself not as a gym but rather a safe space for fitness. Having lunk alarms whenever intimidating grunts or aggressive lifting is performed. This has sparked much controversy within the fitness community as it is perceived by some to be a means of silencing their personality.
An alternative to the planet fitness approach is the establishment of all female gyms. Such facilities offer training and equipment specifically for women, without the grunting and testosterone of the usual gym setting. These range from casual fitness and hang out spots to decked out bodybuilding gyms and are not just fluffy pink weights and bands.
For women who want a safe space to work out and better their body, all female gyms are a fantastic choice. Away from harassment and the stigma present in a conventional gym. So if you are tired of the toxic environment of a usual gym consider a female only gym.