I will never be a gym rat. It might stun some of you to know that to lose over 100 lbs I never stepped foot in a gym. I do however, love the idea of having a space for like minded individuals to go to keep fit and stay active. I think gyms are a fantastic tool for a lot of people…and I have no shame at all in admitting that I especially love the idea of sporting a cute workout outfit as I sweat alongside these individuals. Even though there are great pricing deals for a lot of the smaller chain gyms, I still cannot get past paying any monthly fee for communal use of equipment to perform exercises that I can easily simulate in the comfort of my own home using my own weights and work out gadgets. So a gym membership sounds cool, but that’s as far as that idea will likely go with me.
I get asked fairly frequently to tag along with friends of mine who do have gym memberships. I will never turn down an opportunity to visit a new space, get a workout in and catch up with friends! Last week I got the chance to do just that at an open house for non members at a newly opened gym in my city called World Gym. As it was very new, it was exceptionally clean and bright. Pretty spacious as well. The equipment had barely been used at this point and everything was in pristine condition. Very appealing for any gym goer!
My friend took me for a tour of the entire facility but mentioned she really just stuck to the “woman’s only section.” I get the appeal and the ultimate goal of having a separate area for woman. But seeing as fitness is shared by both sexes, wouldn’t it be fair to also have a “men’s only section”? A comfortable place for men to workout? Men who may feel self conscious or vulnerable being around fit woman. Because that IS one of the driving forces behind the “woman’s only section” right?? Some woman don’t want to be bending and squatting or huffing and puffing around strange guys for fear that they are either being ogled or judged based on their fitness level. I get that. So how is that men are somehow left out of that equation? They don’t have those same insecurities?
I’ve written in a previous post on how 90% of the people who are working out in a gym really just care about their own performance and couldn’t give a crap about what you are doing. Despite that, there are still reservations from a lot of woman. Thus the popularity of gyms having areas just for these ladies. Something tells me that the idea of showing that same courtesy to the male species would be met by some criticism. After all, gyms have been around for a long time and to my knowledge, equal separation of the sexes isn’t a common thing in them. Please let me know if I’m wrong.
Equality aside, there is another bone I have to pick about the areas of a gym that are “designed” for woman. The equipment. The type of equipment found in the rest of this gym gave so many options to the user. They had barbell squat racks and benches, a plethora of different leg and ab machines, battle ropes…even monkey bars for crying out loud! The woman’s section had maybe a third of that. The weight machines they had were sufficient, they would do the job, but they had just one machine targeted to each area of the body. The hand held weights only went to 25lbs and there was one barbell – no rack or bench for it. It presented a sort of simplistic nature compared to the rest of the gym. Mostly it was treadmills and elliptical machines. This really perpetuates the stigma that woman should concentrate on cardio machines to get fit. Granted it does come down to how you use these machines, but I can tell you that slow paced, steady state cardio as your only means of exercise will not yield the results of extreme weight loss. I won’t pick on this gym in particular because it is like this at SO many gyms. It seems to be the winning formula for what woman want I suppose, so they just carbon copy it over and over. Ladies, you deserve better!! You should not have to settle with these stereotypical machines! If you have enough confidence to get your butt into the gym, the least these businesses can do is to offer you equality in your work out and allow you to build that growing confidence on the same machines as everyone else.
These issues I have didn’t take away form the shared experience with my friend. We both got in a great workout and I thanked her so much for allowing me to be a small part of her day and her journey towards better health. I commend anyone who plans out their day to include a gym session. High five! You are building your strength, courage and self esteem each time you step through the doors. This goes for men and woman – you are doing so much already, you shouldn’t have to battle silly stereotypes while you are at it.