Ever stepped into the gym and gotten dirty looks from the local denizens. You know, the nasty gymtimidation all too common. Just stepping into the place feels like you have just broken a social taboo, with jacked geared up junkies ready to stare at you from every corner. Many times, even stepping foot into the space is hard enough, making it unlikely for a return visit.
In particular, women bear the brunt of this phenomenon. Be it due to toxic gym culture, creepy dudes or just plain fascination, avid gym goers tend to exude an air of hostility. Making it doubly hard to enter the gym. Even if a woman has been into fitness for just as long, she tends to feel out of place.
Why gym's can be scary for women
This feeling of exclusivity in the gym is definitely not helpful for reaching one's fitness goals, working up the courage to better oneself is hard enough, having to deal with dirty looks the entire time is just a step in the wrong direction. Leading to females being deprived of a very needed social service.
Google searches for female only gyms in the USA has nearly tripled within the last quarter, demonstrating a sharp uptick in demand for judgement free female only environments that create a less toxic and compassionate safe space. Many of these new female only gyms are also big on socializing and classes, a clear difference from the individualistic 'bro lifting' commonly practiced in commercial gyms, where the only communication between members is the occasional grunt. Being in a communal environment allows women to learn from her peers and forge lasting friendships in fitness.
Do we need more of these gyms ?
Amy, head trainer at curves, a well known female only wellness center says yes! Amy has spent well over a decade working as a personal trainer with her female clients, and seeks to remodel the fitness paradigm to become more female centric. She believes that classes as well as bespoke programs for women are the way forward and conventional gyms have failed to provide such a service.
"As ladies, we go through significant hormonal changes in our bodies once a month, and even more gargantuan shifts in our menopause and pre/post natal stages. Tracking these changes and adjusting accordingly is vital for making fitness more sustainable for women. "It's therefore important that female trainers take the helm for female training to take stock of these issues and train around them accordingly."
While gyms are now widespread in the country and have done a good job in promoting good health, the trend of gender health inequality is troubling. Women are less likely to meet their weekly exercise quota compared to men.
Creating a space where women feel safe to express their version of fitness is key to reducing this gender gap, and furthering female fitness. Getting rid of the stigma and barrier to entry is integral to making this a reality.
Importance of a safe space
Fitness is not just about your level of strength, the miles your run or the calories that you burn. It is truly a state of mind, a collection of sustainable and realistic goals to achieve. Bettering mind, body and soul.
Research has persistently shown the relationship between exercise and the reduction of risk in contracting chronic illnesses. Other benefits of fitness include better mental health and stress management. Just half an hour of exercise is enough to boost your body's immune response...which has been needed very much as of late.
Whether you are suffering gymtimidation or have already found your safe space, having an environment dedicated to women's fitness seems to be important in promoting women's health going forward. Do you think this trend will continue?