People that exercise can be drawn into two camps: those that do it because they love it, and those that do it because they hate the way they look. Eventually, of course, many people move from the latter to the former, actually developing a love for the gym, or the sport that they have chosen.
Sadly, more and more women are reporting a phenomenon that is being called ‘gymtimidation’ or being so intimidated by someone else at the gym that you end up going home before your workout is finished. That someone is almost always another woman.
Which makes it so strange that more and more all-female and female-only gyms are opening up. Reports used to suggest that women were getting tired of being ogled by the men that they were working out next to, and fed up with being hit on every time they walked towards the changing rooms. Women were claiming their right not to be looked at while exercising, and the female only gym was born. But now, with the rise of gymtimidation, it seems as though women are still conscious about being looked at. Instead of being stared at and objectified as a sexual object, they now fear being stared at and compared physically.
Perhaps it is just down to our natural need to be better, or at least not terrible, compared to other women. Maybe our instincts tell us that in order to gain a man, we need to ‘beat’ other women in looks. But whatever it is, it is not healthy, and is forcing many women to leave the gym altogether. If you are trying to decide whether or not to join an all female gym because you want to escape the sexist comments but are worried about returning home, hating the way that you look, here are our five tips that we think can help you make your gym experience that much better:
1. Take a buddy that you cannot be jealous of.
We all have one: that friend that we are so close to, the idea of being jealous of them is almost laughable. Encourage that friend to come with you, to whatever gym you decide to go to, and you will find it possible to ignore everyone else in the room.
If you can’t manage to persuade/bully your friend into joining the gym, then you need to invest in some really good headphones. Look for ones that block out all sound, and then make a playlist of your favourite tracks or even an audiobook. Studies have shown that gym goers that are completely concentrating on both their workout and an exterior source will not be able to take in anything else; so substitute your worrying about what that guy is thinking to whether or not Mr Bingley will propose.
3. Pick a time of day.
A real passion for the gym will make getting up at any time of day easy. Try out different times of the day to see when the gym is most deserted: that can become your work out time.
4. Set yourself a time limit.
If you can feel gymtimidation coming over you, have a look at your watch. Promise yourself that you will leave that piece of equipment in five minutes but only to go to another. Train yourself not to feel afraid, and practise not leaving as soon as you feel uncomfortable, and soon it will not bother you in the slightest.
5. Smile, and then move on.
Sometimes people are rude. Smile at them politely, and then move on. Life is too short to worry about people like that, and you are there to exercise.