OPINION: Why does a women-only gym make men so angry?
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“I'm sure there's plenty of cracks to peep through,” was one of 800 comments on a Facebook post about a personal trainer who was is set to open a women-only studio in Norwich.
What I thought was a seemingly innocent story celebrating the success of a business turned into a very heated and somewhat hostile debate. But what is there to talk about?
It was only in March this year that a conversation around women’s safety came to the forefront of the national media when 33-year-old Sarah Everard was killed by a metropolitan police officer as she walked to her home in South London.
But it seems many people have already forgotten.
I work out, I go to a unisex gym and I have no problem with that. But it can be a very intimidating place for women because most of the time it is a male-dominated environment.
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I have met plenty of lovely, polite and respectful men in gyms and I have many male friends but I have had previous experiences of being made to feel uncomfortable by men.
Whether that’s being starred at, approached and even hit-on.
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At my previous gym, while I was using a squat rack in the heavy weight section, a man approached me and asked if I was finished. I told him I had a few more sets and he stood and watched until I was done.
There were two other men on squat racks next to me, but he didn’t ask them? I felt so uncomfortable I cut my set short and walked away.
The aim of a women-only gym isn’t to divide the sexes. It is to provide a place for women to feel safe and comfortable to work on themselves and their fitness goals without that worry.
Unfortunately, it is needed.
In recent news, another young woman’s life was cruelly taken after the body of 28-year-old teacher Sabina Nessa was discovered in Cator Park in London, believed to have been attacked and murdered as she walked to meet her friend at a pub.
I wish it wasn’t the case, but women’s safety remains a major issue and if a woman feels safer in a gym without men I can completely understand why.
But I was absolutely appalled at some of the insensitive responses made online.
One man referred to it as a “playboy mansion” and the male trainer would be like a “kid in a candy shop”.
“The female gym outfits would definitely change,” another added.
And my personal favourite: “Sexism. There would be an uproar if there was a male only gym” - I can guarantee you that women would not be bothered.
However, the comments left by most women welcomed the opening of this type of gym and listed many reasons why.
One commented: “Most women I know are uncomfortable doing anything in a fitness centre apart from classes because of fear of being watched.”
It can also be for confidence, as one woman commented: “To all the men on this post commenting, women don't just worry about men looking at them in the gym.
“Personally, I just feel uncomfortable in a unisex gym because I'm not happy with my body and going to a gym full of men in good shape is intimidating and makes you feel worse about yourself.”
Another wrote: “A person should be able to work out and not be judged at all. If a woman wants to wear small shorts and a crop top and not be ogled or objectified then this is the place.”
The comments left on this Facebook post only reinforce why a male-free gym is a great idea and if it encourages more women to make positive and healthier changes in their lives it should be welcomed.
Men, please do not take the opening of a women-only gym personally. Instead, try to understand the reasons why.