Ladies & The Gym

I am an exercise and gym enthusiast in addition to being fanatical about food. I’d like to dispel some myths and provide some tips for ladies who might be a bit hesitant to hit the gym, especially ones that are mostly populated by men training to become MMA fighters or boxers like my own very nearby and dear-to-my-heart gym.

  • Lift weights or do body weight exercises! Cardio forever is just boring. Plus lean muscle mass is awesome. You might weigh the same or even increase weight, but after lifting weights, you get smaller and more toned. Seriously. You won’t look like this.
  • Be a little greedy. With the equipment, that is. Aka – don’t be overly polite, otherwise you’ll never get your workout on. If you’re just doing a few sets, don’t worry about people eyeing the machine you’re one, or the equipment you’re using. You’ll be done in a few minutes and it’ll be their turn next. Or you can…
  • Share the equipment. Don’t be shy about asking someone if you can switch off between when they’re resting between sets and you see that you can do your sets within their rest period, and feel free to say okay to someone who asks the same of you. And no hard feelings if the answer is no.
  • Just because a guy talks to you, it doesn’t mean that he’s hitting on you. Look, I’m just as antisocial as the next person, but sometimes guys are just curious about what you’re doing and how to do it themselves. I always give people a shot – you never know who you might meet and the moves you might exchange.
  • That said… sometimes you need to be prepared to tell someone to back off. Some guys like to play the “helpful/know-it-all gym guy” card as a way to talk to you. And interfere with your workout. Do not let that happen. The other day I was at the gym doing some new chest exercises. When I haven’t done an exercise in a while (or ever) I like to do the motion with a small amount of weight to get a feel for it, then increase weight. When I was testing out a barbell exercise, this guy I’ve never seen before tells me that I’m doing it wrong. There was a mirror, and from what I saw, I wasn’t, but I figured, hey, maybe I did something small that I didn’t notice. Then he tells me to ask him for help for advice for any other moves or equipment that I’m going to use. Okay, creepy flag. Correcting form is one thing, but if some guy you’ve never noticed before says something like that… it’s weird and vaguely condescending/sexist to insinuate that I don’t know how to work any of these big scary things at the gym. Once I finished with that set, I moved on to an ol’ faithful piece of equipment, and this same guy came up to me again telling me that I had the wrong form. NO. Because I don’t. Because you are being really creepy. But hey, just use that weird rage to lift heavier weights. I feel like being blunt and fairly aggressive is necessary in these situations, so I responded “Dude. I appreciate the help and all, but I’ve got this machine and I know what I’m doing.” 
  • Your dietary cravings may change. I think you should go into the gym/exercise in general with the outlook of becoming a healthier person. With that said, you may notice yourself craving healthier foods after a few weeks hitting the weights.
  1. The guys I observe utilizing the gym as a social club/singles bar make me ashamed of my gender. I get such douche chills watching various scenarios like the one you describe occur. I try to not even make eye contact with anyone at the gym, I feel like exercise is a sort of private thing…

    • Yeah, I’m also usually a purposefully oblivious gym goer, but every now and then… well, I get blog fodder.

  2. There’s nothing VAGUELY condescending or sexist about the behavior you describe — it’s straight up condescending AND sexist. Honestly, in what other situation in the world would someone come up to a stranger and offer unsolicited advice on how they’re doing something wrong? Correct form in all situations is, “Do you need any help?” Anyone who doesn’t know that isn’t worth talking to, and women shouldn’t feel they have to justify their own reaction to this rudeness.

  3. Jeni B said:

    I hate to admit it.. I’m intimidated by the free weights in the gym.. not because of the testosterone.. because I don’t want to look stupid by “doing it wrong”. I *don’t* know what I’m doing.. do you have any suggestions for someone who wants to get into weight lifting?

    • Most folks I’ve talked to feel pretty complimented if you ask them what they’re doing, but if you’re shy, check out some apps or websites. I like – they’re pretty detailed, or skimble (app that will show how to do some of their exercise routines). Some body building websites also will have videos of form. Make sure you’re by a mirror to monitor your own form (I know this part may seem intimidating, but mirrors are really helpful to make sure you’re doing it right).

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