Blog: Women-Only Fitness Zones Perpetuate Stereotypes

Uuu 513 Ab Headshot

Here at AB, it’s the editors’ job to stay on top of what’s happening in the industries we serve. As such, last Friday I came across an article about a gym in Vancouver getting some flak for its decision to close its women-only section. 

“If you spend any time in a gym you’ll know that some members of the workout population monopolize the equipment, they sweat on the equipment and don’t wipe it down,” one irate member, Karen Tankard, told the Vancouver Sun. “And there’s a lot of noise.”

Is that so, Karen? To whom could you possibly be referring? Alleging that women are always courteous, hygienic and follow gym rules to a T is just as bad as condemning the entire male population for doing the opposite. 

Not that she might not be a little bit right. I can’t help but notice that none of the gym stereotypes exaggerated in the video below are portrayed by women: 



But that’s beside the point. We can all concede that sometimes unsavory things happen at the gym, and that some of these unsavory things are done by men. It’s the idea that separate areas are the way to deal with it (or rather, NOT deal with it) that I can’t agree with. When someone behaves in an inappropriate way, the solution shouldn’t be to ignore it and go somewhere else. You have as much right to enjoyment of the gym as anyone else. Someone monopolizing a machine? Assert yourself! Leaving the equipment sweaty? Call them on it! There are plenty of other gym goers — male and female — who will appreciate it. 

The women decrying the loss of their women-only area also point to lewd comments and ogling from male members (See “Weights for Dates” Guy in above video). They don’t like being treated like meat. But again, creating your own area of the gym doesn’t help this. It simply reinforces the idea that the gym is a guy zone where it’s okay for men to behave like testosterone-fueled jocks. You’re admitting you don’t belong there.

“We have a lot of female members and we don’t have that kind of atmosphere,“ one club owner told the Sun. “If your club is uncomfortable, you have to look a bit deeper than that and say, ‘Why is it uncomfortable?’ ”

Exactly. There are always going to be Those Members. It’s up to the rest of us to hold them accountable for their behavior and create an environment that’s comfortable for everyone. The expectation should be that people act civilized in public. End of story.


Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2023 in Baltimore
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Nov 1-4, 2023
Learn More
AB Show 2023