To All The Male Gym Users, Our Bench Press Set Is As Important As Yours.

To all male gym users: the bench press set is just as important to female gym users as it is to you. 

If you're a woman who wants to lift weights at the gym but are too scared to leave the treadmill, you aren't alone! There's so much research showing that many women avoid the dumbbells because they feel intimidated by men. Sadly, that's backed up by my own experiences in the gym world - including today, which is what has prompted me to write this post. 

I was in the weights area with a female client, using the bench press. when a male member of the gym approached us. Now, my client is pretty anxious when it comes to using weights, so I was introducing her to an exercise using the lightest bar possible. The guy wanted to share the equipment immediately - and, usually, I'm more than happy to share. But, given that we had three short sets to go and were using the lightest bar, I explained it will be much quicker for both of us if we just stayed on the bench press to finish, rather than keep swapping between the light and heavy bar several times. Needless to say he was not happy... and kicked off. He was aggressive, shouting that he didn't want to wait, that I never share equipment (which is completely untrue), that it's poor behaviour... basically, he was really intimidating, and clearly didn't understand that not every gym member has the same starting point and possess the same confidence and abilities. No matter what we suggested (that he wait a short while, that he use some other similar equipment in the meantime), it wasn't good enough, and he stood over us as we continued to finish our sets, loudly talking about how unacceptable it was.

Interestingly, another member (male) witnessed everything and stepped in to support us, telling this guy that he was being unreasonable; obviously, some male gym goers are absolutely fine and welcome women as equals. But, it's definitely the exception and not the norm. In the past few years, I've spent over 90% of my time training both my males and females clients in the free weight areas in my gym which has made me both witness and experience unequal, sexist treatment in this way. There are many times I've observed women going into the weights area but take equipment and immediately leave to workout somewhere more private.

I'd happily bet that a lot feel 'gymtimidated' by the men in the weights area who make a lot of noise, prowl up and down or always drop heavy weights after lifting them (as if it somehow indicates their worth!).My key message is that every gym goer has a right to be at the gym - it is not a playground for bullies. No-one, female or male, should avoid certain areas of the gym because they feel intimidated by others or that it's not 'their' space.

The gym belongs to everyone - and, besides, STRONG PEOPLE LIFT OTHERS UP RATHER THAN PUT OTHERS DOWN!