Misogyny and the Gym

Some of my friends may know that I’m a regular gym-goer. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I don’t like it so much, but generally I hate not going to the gym more than going. This isn’t the forum to talk about why I go; instead I want to talk about the culture at gyms themselves.

Mostly, the atmosphere at the gyms I’ve attended is kind of okay. But then I’m a reasonably-in-shape male, so presumably all the total dickheads out there see me as one of their own. Which is a good thing, I guess.

But on the occasions I see someone who doesn’t fit into their stereotype of a gym person (i.e. not male), the seething among the olympic lifters begins. I want to make clear that it’s not a majority of people who act like awful fucks, but there’s definitely more than in the outside world (and if I did a scientific study, I’m pretty sure the difference would be statistically significant).

Just yesterday for example, I was in the middle of a… No, wait, k’know what? I’m going to write this blog post in the voice of a fitness blogger. I’ll start again. Oh, and imagine I’m speaking like Johnnie Vaughan would if he took a cocktail of anabolic steroids.

SO, yesterday is was hitting the weights HARD. And I mean HARD. I was fucking beasting my way through a SERIOUSLY hardcore set when some other dude heads on over my way and asks if the Smith machine is free. This rookie wanted to bench on a Smith machine – hitting big numbers on a machine like this won’t end up getting you that ROCK-HARD body you always wanted, as you won’t get it with a restricted ROM.

He’s asking me this shit in the middle of a CRAZY fucking set. I mean, I am in the ZONE. And the worst thing was, he has to walk past this CHICK to come and ask me. Good for her that she’s working out and getting herself TOGETHER – the real men out there won’t TAKE a girl in unless she’s got TIGHT abs and great ti-

Yeah, I can’t carry on doing this. It’s giving me a headache. I’m going back to my normal voice – if you haven’t heard it, it’s smooth, sultry, and slightly annoying after the first few sentences.

Basically I was in the middle of something, and a guy asked whether a specific piece of equipment was free. Which is kind of annoying, but kind of understandable. Unless there’s someone standing right next to me (and nearer him), not wearing headphones, and taking a rest between sets. Then, surely, it’s worth asking the other person.

Why didn’t he? Personally, I think it’s because she was a woman, and he didn’t think she belonged. Why do I think that? First, he was wearing a T-shirt which read “Read this while I stare at your tits”, second he decided not to ask her in the first place, and third, he ignored her when she answered his question anyway. He just pretended she was invisible and inaudible and waited for me to answer instead.

I know it sounds a bit petty, but this everyday misogyny can so easily fade into the background unless someone comments. There’s just this general vibe I get from some people at the gym that it’s a guy’s space, which men graciously allow women to use sometimes. From men telling women to stop using equipment so they can, to the arse-staring and creepshots whenever a woman walks past in stretchy workout gear.

My least favourite event was a woman walking into the free-weights area (that most manly of places) and look around for a second. She could have been looking for anything: a free bench, the dumbbell rack, a squat rack, anything at all. But no, one guy realised she must be completely lost. Why would a girl want to work out with free weights, he wondered to himself. What came out his mouth was: “The cross-trainers are on the other side of the gym, love”.

That’s a gym I never went back to.

I remember some guys complaining in a changing rooms about women’s-only branches of Fitness First which have opened around London. Where are the men’s-only gyms? These morons asked that question over and over, while I shook my head silently knowing the real answer: they’re fucking everywhere.

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Filed under Feminism, Fitness

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