The Rise Of Women Entering the Free Weights Section of The Gym

For years upon years, there was a toxic mentality that the weights section of the gym was for men and men alone. A woman in the weights section? Laughable. A woman in the cardio section though? Acceptable.

Recently though, the times, the social norms, and the approach women take to training has changed. No longer are we only supposed to go to the gym in order to lose weight, running ourselves into the ground (while being very bored) on the treadmill, or spinning ourselves senseless on the bikes. 
We go to the gym to get stronger, to get fitter and for our mental sanity, we go to the gym and use whatever damn equipment we please in whatever section of the gym we feel like. Women can come and go from the weights section as they want. While society is becoming more and more accepting of women working out for strength instead of fat loss- there is still a select view with old school mentality. 

As society evolves and changes, so do the norms that we see. While most people barely bat an eye lid at the sight or mention of a women lifting weights, you can imagine the crease that appeared in my forehead when a comment from a guest in my house made my eyes widen. “Women shouldn’t train arms,” said breezily, like what he was saying was common knowledge and he was surprised I didn’t already know about this.

It was in the dining room of my house with a direct line of sight into my workout area in the back room was where this comment was made. Spying the rows of different sized weights and bars and exercise equipment that I have built up over the years, the comment was prompted by what was written on my blackboard hanging loosely on the far corner wall. 
“Tuesday = Upper Body Strength” a simple reminder for myself that on Tuesdays the focus should be on training my upper body (without guidance I have a tendency to train legs far too much.)

I was perplexed, there was multiple different thoughts running through my head and I was genuinely confused about how to respond. Was he telling me that I was okay to lower body and not upper body? Does he train upper body and not lower?  Was he worried that I would have more muscle in my upper body than him and it would intimidate him? More importantly, what the hell had given him the idea that the way that I train, that any women trains was determined by a man (unless coaching is involved but thats something else entirely.)  

Thinking about his comment still gets on my nerves in much the same way an article that I read recently did as well- I will link them at the bottom of the post, however, I recommend not clicking on if you don’t want to get mad at someone you don’t know. I have no idea how I came across the article, it is from a few years ago but I am certain that there is still men in particular with the mentality outlined (just look through some Insta-fit girls comments!) The post was entitled “4 Reasons Why Gyms Should Be for Men Only” and you’re rolling your eyes already, aren’t you?

Here is a collection of quotes for you to get where I am coming from and underneath you can also find the comments I would have made very swiftly in reply: 

  •         “In an ideal world we would go up and tell her to ‘jog on’ and find a more female appropriate piece of equipment.”
Please never tell a woman, or anyone really to “jog on”, there is much nicer ways to put this that would be better received- what also gives you the right to tell someone when their time is up on a piece of equipment? A female appropriate piece of equipment? Women are allowed to use whatever damn equipment they please, I have never seen a piece of equipment with the label “only for use by people with a penis,” has anyone else? 
  •        “Now you have to wait and rearrange your workout around this woman, who in reality should be concentrating on cardio to lose fat rather than a more masculine workout.”
How do you know that that woman is in the gym with her goal being to lose fat? While you may think a women has body fat to lose, that is your opinion (that should be kept to yourself), she may not be there to burn fat at all. Many women go to the gym to get stronger, there should never be the assumption she is just working out to lose weight.

  •         “If we must have mixed gyms then there should be a rule if a man approaches the squat rack and its being used by a woman she should step aside and let him jump ahead of her.”
        Here we go again with the “men are superior to women” mentality. You are not and no women should ever have to step aside for a man, certainly not in the gym. We are all equals whether you think so or not.

  •          “From a personal point of view, I also find the women of high body fat distracting, not because I am checking them out, but rather because I am disgusted at having to watch them wobble around the gym.”
If you find women with a little more body fat distracting maybe you should find another place to work out. This comment really irks me- do men with higher body fat distract you too?

  •         “Women are irrational, emotional and caustic towards each other.” 
I just need to sigh at this comment. So sexist and rude.

Do you have angry tension right now? You should have.  

The point of this post and the fact I even took the time to find those quotes, is because while we have made huge improvements in regard to women in the gym- we still have a long way to go.

If you are a man and you see a woman in the gym: don’t make a comment about her body, don’t give unsolicited advice on her form, don’t make a show out of waiting for the equipment she is using, don’t make her feel uncomfortable. Because I see comments time and time again from girls who finally found the courage to go to the gym and some male goes out of his way to ruin in for her. Let her be, if she needs help, she will ask, if she wants you to spot for her she will ask- let the girl workout in peace.

For the other issue, women can train whatever bloody muscle group they please. That comment hasn’t deterred me, in fact, it made me more focused on strengthening my upper body. 

Girl, you lift those weights. 

The article: *proceed with caution* I acknowledge the article was published a few years ago, but it eally does highlight that there is still work that needs to be done in regards to the mentality of women in the gym. 

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