The Rise of Women-Only Gyms

Walking into a gym, especially as a beginner, can feel intimidating and uncomfortable at the best of times. For women, however, these spaces can be particularly harmful, and sometimes even dangerous, due to the nature of fitness centers and their propensity to foster an environment where sexual harassment often occurs without consequence.

Many women have received inappropriate comments, been touched, or filmed without their consent during their time at the gym, which has caused several women to quit going altogether instead of having to deal with the anxiety of constant unwanted advances.

The gym is supposed to be a safe space that allows everyone to be able to reach their fitness and health goals no matter what they look like, but the behavior of many gym-goers has made this impossible for some.

This behavior has led to an increased market for female-only gyms throughout the past couple of decades, and with the help of social media, these spaces are becoming more popular than ever. Having to worry about men staring or making unnecessary comments about women’s bodies can be distracting, unmotivating, and sometimes scary. Women-only gyms aim to provide a safe space for women where they can feel supported and more comfortable during their workouts without having to worry about compromising their safety.

While discussing this topic with some of the female students here at Monmouth, the support for women-only gyms and their overarching goal was overwhelming. Adriana Simancas and Einat Shayer, both juniors majoring in marine and environmental biology and policy, expressed that they were fully in favor of them.

“Sometimes men can make us feel uncomfortable, so I think it’s important to have these spaces that give women the option of to workout somewhere where they don’t have to worry about that,” stated Simancas.

Shaye added, “I don’t go to the gym now because of the stares I receive when I go, so if I could limit that by going to a women-only gym then I think I would want to go more.”

Junior psychology student Ariana Connelly voiced, “Women are more comfortable working out when they feel like they’re not being gawked at the entire time. It can be intimidating walking into a gym with a bunch of guys staring at you.”

This begs the question, though: if female-only gyms are receiving widespread support, why aren’t all women making the switch to these spaces?

A senior communication student had some insight: “I think [women-only gyms] can limit your options. Affordability, location, and the equipment that’s available are also important to consider. I think if it was all the same, though, I would feel more comfortable going to one of those gyms over a co-ed one.”

There are many factors to consider when choosing a gym. The memberships for female-only gyms are often priced higher than their co-ed counterparts, which can make it difficult for some women to afford, even if they would prefer going to these gyms. Location can also be an issue. There are less women-only gyms than there are co-ed ones and most of these are located in major cities, so they’re not as readily accessible to a lot of women.

The number of classes and equipment available can also be limited due to the spaces being smaller. Shayer added that the lack of inclusion may also be a little off-putting for some. “Some women like working out with their guy friends or boyfriends so that could be a reason some girls aren’t joining,” she offered.

All of these different preferences can make it hard to decide which gym is the perfect fit; women want to be able to have a certain level of convenience while still maintaining comfortability. Each woman is going to have their own personal preference for what they expect from their gym experience, but one of the most important goals that female-only gyms aim to achieve is to at least give women the option to not have to worry about their safety and privacy being compromised.