Over three quarters of women fear being harassed in the gym

Caroline Allen
Contributor
One on three women would prefer to go to a women's only gym. [Photo: Getty]

It’s hard to start the year without some form of New Year’s resolution, even if it’s just something in the back of your mind.

The start of a new year provides people with a good opportunity to kick-start their fitness goals. For some, that means joining a gym.

For women, the decision to join a gym isn’t always an easy one.

Golfsupport.com surveyed 1,438 women about their experience in gyms to try to piece together why so many women feel fearful about joining.

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It found that 78% of women fear being harassed during their workouts, with one in three women saying they’d prefer to go to a women’s only gym.

In fact, thousands of women search for female-only gyms online each month as well as searching for what make-up they can workout in.

The fear of being harassed isn’t born out of nowhere, either. Nearly half (40%) could note a time where they had their picture taken, were ogled, touched, stared at or approached at the gym.

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For some, it’s more about using the machines and weights.

After all, it can be pretty daunting to walk into a new gym and not be quite sure on how to use the equipment.

Many will shy away from using certain parts of the gym floor, with 60% of women saying they steer clear of dumbbell racks, squat racks and bench press machines.

Lucy Arnold, founder of Lucy Locket Loves activewear joined the gym after a long break because of injury. After not going for a while she said she “didn’t feel like she fitted in.”

“I was constantly comparing myself to others - I didn’t look like them, I couldn’t spend as long on the cross trainer or treadmill as them.”

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The cycle of comparison can be a struggle for women, with social media playing a part in that battle.

Lucy believes the trick for her, though, was to persevere.

“With time and confidence, I soon realised that we are all different and I soon realised a lot of people felt in the same boat and didn’t all feel comfortable, confident and didn’t know how to use all the equipment.”

Her advice? Focus on being yourself.

“The best thing to do is smile at everyone and say hello and soon it will feel more comfortable and your own environment too. I have now made friends at the gym which also helps.”

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Lucy’s not the only one to credit perseverance with her success in the gym.

Twitter user, Claire Ronan agreed. She joined a gym three years ago and was three stone overweight.

“I overcame the initial butt clenching cringe of nearly peeing myself when the classes got very difficult or crying when i thought I would puke.” She explains.

“With the encouragement of the teacher and the other girls I’ve persevered and low and behold I’m now fit and thinner.”

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