The hardest part about working out is getting your ass off the couch to go in the first place.
But oftentimes it's not just our own laziness that's holding us back. In fact, there are many other factors that can feed this hesitation: not knowing how to work machines, being intimidated by number of built regulars, or maybe not even having a way to get there.
A big fear for some of the women (including myself) that regularly go to the gym, is being some creepy sweaty dude's eye candy.
My worst fears came true last week, when I started working out again at one of the on-campus gyms, the Lyon Center. Unlike its newly-built sister gym in the Village, the Lyon Center has a seemingly 6:1 ratio of guys to girls. Yeah- you're practically breathing in testosterone. Regardless, I choose to work out there because they have my preferred equipment and utilities, and it also quite closer to my dorm.
So last week, two men on two separate occasions decided it would be a fabulous idea to ask for my phone number. When these encounters first happened, I initially just brushed it off. But it became an issue when I realized that these incidents made me feel much more vulnerable and uncomfortable during my future gym visits. I also found myself coming up with more and more excuses not to go to the gym.
Whenever I went back, I felt an utmost sense of paranoia. If a guy made prolonged eye contact with me, or if I caught him staring in my direction in my peripherals, I'd feel uneasy. While nothing has happened since I am constantly on edge that something will happen.
Through my newfound gym hyper-awareness, I've also begun to notice how some guys look at other girls at the gym. Or rather, parts of girls. This realization has only made the prospect of the gym more uncomfortable.
All of this has also made me come to realize that there must be a correlation between these disturbing phenomena and the low numbers of women at the gym.
In general, I believe that women are often intimidated by the dominant presence of men in the gym. Not only do men rule in numbers, but also by size. It doesn't make girls any more comfortable that men generally can lift heavier weights, and are also more physically built. Of course, not all men at the gym check out girls out or ask for their numbers. But that doesn't mean that girls don't feel uncomfortable.
The gym is as much of a woman's space as it is a man's. We go there for the same reasons: to get in shape, look better, and feel better. What we don't go there for is to find a lover, or be someone's eye candy. Bringing this issue to light will hopefully make the gym a safer space for everybody. I hope that one day, more girls will feel comfortable enough to traverse their way from the outlying treadmills and ellipticals to the bench presses and squat racks.