Work out goals are among the top 10 most common New Year’s resolutions. Gyms across the nation keep this in mind, understanding the almost certain spike in members after the holidays.
Once students are back on campus following winter break, the workout floor of the Student Recreation Center is undoubtedly more crowded. While getting into great shape is unquestionably a positive thing, there are many drawbacks that come with being a woman who chooses to frequent the gym.
Women often steer clear of drawing attention to themselves while working out in public. The wandering eyes, grunting, unwanted flirting and fear of harassment can push women to work out with a trainer or in more private areas.
Women feel the need to keep headphones in with music blaring and avoid eye contact at all costs. The sad fact of the matter is women can feel intimidated by certain types of men at the gym and more often than not, men disrupt their workouts.
Texas State should consider its student body and the fact women account for more than half of it. It is vital for women to go somewhere for a full workout while feeling completely comfortable and safe. The Student Recreation Center needs to lean into its demographic and create a women-only area women may use in the instance they are uncomfortable on the main floor.
Some women go to the gym to be seen. There is nothing wrong with this; everyone has their reasons for hitting the gym. However, that percentage is much smaller than women who would rather keep their heads down, get a workout in and call it a day. Unfortunately, so many factors get in the way of the average woman doing so. Some men will stop what they’re doing to stare, or eerily follow a woman throughout her workout, regardless of her outfit, makeup or lack thereof. Women have even reported men touching them in order to “help them” achieve the correct form.
These occurrences are pitiful, desperate and embarrassing. In no way, shape or form should women feel intimidated or fearful to the point where they avoid doing something that betters who they are. As a way to combat this, gyms nationwide have created “women-only areas” within the space. The areas are optional, of course, but provide a safe space where women can get the workout they need without the pressure of being on the floor, more vulnerable to the male gaze.
It is understandable why some people may find these spaces discriminatorytoward women. In truth, many of these women-only areas are sub-par, with lighter weights and less equipment available, with most machines catering “to the ladies.” Assumptions that women workout in less intensive ways than men is a terrible disservice.
However, if built correctly and equally, these spaces have the ability to ensure women, who want it, have access to the workout they need sans mansplaining and unwanted attention. These areas are not sexist, but rather provide a space where the pressure, lurking eyes and male disruptions have no room to occur.
Gyms creating and readily providing women-only spaces may not be the perfect solution, but if it’s the only way to get some women hitting the iron when and how they please, it’s a good start.
– Bayley Bogus is a journalism senior