6 things women put up with in the gym, and why they shouldn't have to.

Finding the motivation to go to the gym isn't easy for anyone. But it can be much harder for women, for reasons that have nothing to do with actually working out.

Knowing they're likely walking into a hornet's nest of people (men) who will bother, critique, stare at, or otherwise annoy them is an unfortunate reality for many female gym-goers.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.


About 14% of women say they're intimidated by the possibility of men leering or judging them while they work out, according to research done by Cosmopolitan Body in 2014. The problem gets even worse in the weights section, which is typically overrun with men. The survey discovered almost half of all women found the area intimidating because of "the people who use it."

Anecdotal evidence backs that up. Reddit and fitness discussion forums are rife with women asking for advice on dealing with men at the gym who gawk, flirt, interrupt, or even harass them. The common (and quite depressing) responses: develop a "resting bitch face," learn to be super rude, get better at ignoring people, or report these men to gym management.

Instead, we ought to be reminding men they don't own the gym; women shouldn't have to "put up with" rude behavior or "find a way" to not attract attention. Wouldn't it be better for everyone if women didn't have to deal with harassment at all?

So, fellow dudes and fellow gym go-ers, I implore you, think for a second about what women go through at the gym. And if you catch yourself or your friends doing any of this stuff, please cut it out.

1. Women can tell when you're staring at them, and it's not as flattering as you think.

Making a woman feel "on display" by leering when she's just trying to get a workout in is a surefire way to make her feel uncomfortable or even scared. And no, tight pants and sports bras aren't an invitation.

Think a lingering glance here and there isn't a big deal? Upworthy reader Meredith Cantrell says many of the women she knows actually drive to "gay neighborhoods" to work out so they won't be gawked at.

Totally unnecessary if guys can learn to keep our eyes to ourselves.

2. Women go to the gym to work out (like everyone else) — not speed-date between sets.

It's not that you can't meet that special someone at the gym, but there's a time and a place. Flirting with a woman at the gym when she's in the middle of lifting weights or grinding out miles on the treadmill is neither the time nor place.

Not only is it super rude to interrupt (honestly, you're not going to get a good response doing this anyway), it's also pretty dangerous to distract someone while they're, say, holding the equivalent of their own bodyweight on their back while doing squats. Yet, incredibly, it happens all the time.

A good rule of thumb: When someone's wearing headphones, it usually means they don't want to talk to anyone. Even you, handsome.

3. When women lift heavy weights, guys around them get insecure and lash out.

Reader Emma Johnson writes that one day, while working with her trainer, she hit a pretty impressive 250-kilogram leg press (over 550 pounds — go Emma!). A jealous guy standing nearby couldn't help but chime in, "Yeah, but you're doing it wrong."

Look, guys, women are strong. Sometimes they will be stronger than you. Deal with it like an adult and get back to work on your own fitness goals.

4. Unsolicited advice isn't helpful. It's insulting.

When people want help, they'll ask, or they'll hire a personal trainer. In the meantime, worry about your own "form." OK?

Laurna Robertson says she was talking to a "persistent guy" in the sauna at her gym one day when the subject of running came up. After sharing their respective half-marathon times (Laurna was faster, by the way), the man "generously" offered to coach her. What a guy!

Sophia Bromfield adds, "I have a corner in the gym to hide while I lift," but one day a dude stood next to her until she took her headphones off, then insisted on teaching her proper lunge form.

This is the gym version of mansplaining. It's annoying and insulting. Don't do it.

5. Some guys just don't know when to go away. Others are straight-up bullies.

Being "overly friendly" with questionable motivations is one thing, but some women find men at the gym can be downright nasty, purposefully intimidating them or boxing them out so they'll leave.

The gym is a shared space. Other people pay money to go there, just like you. If you don't want to be around other humans, buy a home gym.

Also, beware of unconscious behaviors like "manspreading," taking up more room than you need, or stealing someone's weights before they're done with them.

6. These behaviors aren't just annoying. They can be extremely intimidating.

At a certain point, these behaviors cross the line from rude and inappropriate to downright scary.

Ashley Loshbough writes that a man once came up to her (asking her to remove her headphones, which, just ugh) and said, "Wow, I wish I had beautiful [pale] skin like yours," stared for a moment, then walked off.

It might sound funny and harmless, but this is the kind of thing that has women looking over their shoulder in the parking lot and wondering if they should ever come back to that gym again.

A little empathy goes a long way, fellas.

Do you want someone gawking at your butt while you're on the treadmill? Interrupting you while you're holding heavy weights? Impatiently waiting inches away from you until you finish up on a machine?

Let's work together to keep this crap out of the gym and make it an environment where we support others to reach whatever their health and fitness goals are.

Even if that means just leaving each other alone.

The airline industry was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as global and domestic travel came to a screeching halt last spring. When the pandemic was officially declared in March of 2020, no one knew what to expect or how long the timeline of lockdowns and life changes would last.

Two weeks after the declaration, Delta pilot Chris Dennis flew one of the airline's planes to Victorville, CA for storage. He shared photos on Facebook that day of empty planes neatly lined up, saying it was a day he would remember for the rest of his life.

"Chilling, apocalyptic, surreal...all words that still don't fit what is happening in the world," he wrote. "Each one of these aircraft represents hundreds of jobs, if not more."

He added:

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The airline industry was one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as global and domestic travel came to a screeching halt last spring. When the pandemic was officially declared in March of 2020, no one knew what to expect or how long the timeline of lockdowns and life changes would last.

Two weeks after the declaration, Delta pilot Chris Dennis flew one of the airline's planes to Victorville, CA for storage. He shared photos on Facebook that day of empty planes neatly lined up, saying it was a day he would remember for the rest of his life.

"Chilling, apocalyptic, surreal...all words that still don't fit what is happening in the world," he wrote. "Each one of these aircraft represents hundreds of jobs, if not more."

He added:

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True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."