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.

More

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

Keep Reading Show less
More

Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture