When you think of the gym what comes to mind? It might be weightlifting, cardio or even your idea of hell – however, do you think of your safety?
For many women, this is the harsh reality.
In July 2021, a study conducted by Run Repeat found that 56% of women have faced harassment at the gym. Aside from intimidation tactics, harassment comes in a variety of forms; persistent attention, invasion of personal space, catcalling, sexual comments and unwarranted physical contact.
This topic has also gone viral online, with the hashtag #GymCreep reaching 3.9k tags on Instagram to date. These posts have showcased women sharing their stories and evidence of intimidation and harassment in gyms all across the globe.
How can we combat this problem?
One idea is through community support groups – such as the Cambridge girls gym club. These groups host events both in and out of gym environments, as well as provide a safe space for members to ask questions or talk about any concerns they may have.
Lotte Lowe is a personal trainer and fitness influencer who helped to set up this page, commented on her experiences with harassment and how we can overcome this.
“I think it was really important to start it up because for some women the gym is still super intimidating. For a lot of women going into the weights area where it is typically very male dominated is still a very scary thing and I think by having this whole community age you not only create this virtual community but you’re seeing it transpire into physical communities.
“You’ve got your friends going to the gym and people are putting messages into the group chat saying: ‘Is anyone going to the gym tonight? I’m going to be there’.”
The gym can be such a beneficial third space, helping to improve your health both physically and mentally. But, in order for it to be safe for everyone, it seems we need to take some steps together to increase women’s safety.