Dear Men, Leave Me Alone at the Gym

Honestly, everyone should leave me alone at the gym. It’s a gym, not a coffee shop. But in my experience, women aren’t the ones approaching anyone else at the gym- it’s always men.

And I’m not talking about personal trainers, or gym employees. And I’m definitely not talking about my guy friends, who I love running into at the gym. No, I’m talking about sketchy random dudes who think it’s okay to comment on what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, or what I look like.

To be fair, I might go to the shadiest gym in the world (but it’s only $25 a year, and hey, I’m in college). But, that doesn’t make it okay. I shouldn’t feel self-conscious when I’m working out- no one should feel that way. For me, working out is a form of therapy. I use it to channel stress or anger, and turn it into something productive (like lifting things up and putting them down). As corny as it sounds, I’ve learned that going to the gym helps pull me through tough times. I need that time to myself to clear my head and focus on myself, the task in front of me. It also helps me find a source of focus and reliability as I strive to reach my fitness goals. Everything is coordinated, from the training routine to the what time I use the best pre workout supplement. This is what makes the gym so important to me.

So back to my point. Guys, if you don’t know me personally, please, please, please do not comment on what I’m doing. I know what I’m doing. I get my workouts from, so I don’t need your advice! And, don’t do this to any girl at the gym. I would be willing to bet that the number of successful relationships that start after a guy critiques a girl’s lifting form is pretty small. If you’re trying to mingle, go to a coffee shop, or a bar, or the park. If you see a girl using incorrect form that could cause a serious shoulder injury then please do tell us in a kind and non-pervy way as it could save someone a visit to ShoulderMD!

Earlier this week, I was setting up my weights and a man actually came up to me and said,

“I really don’t think you can lift that, that’s pretty heavy. Do you know how to deadlift?”

Excuse me, what? These types of comments are not okay. And like I said, in my experience, it’s never a woman who approaches another person with “gym tips,” it’s always a man. Think about it, how often do you see a woman at the gym walk up to a man and say, “I don’t think you should lift that, it looks heavy for you.” Uh, never. It’s condescending, it’s rude, and most importantly, it’s none of your business. Why men do this, I’m not too sure but I would guess that it has something to do with protecting masculinity, blah blah blah. But I can rack –and lift– as much weight as I want. I don’t ask for someone else’s opinions for a reason: I know my own strength.

Ladies, never let a man tell you that you can’t do something. No one knows your capabilities the way you do. And, women’s and men’s bodies are very different. Even when a tip may seem helpful, just keep in mind that men are often using techniques that help them bulk up. (And also, in general, do you want to look like that guy?) So whether I’m lifting weights or running on the treadmill (probably while crying, because cardio is the worst), you have no right to critique me.

And while I consider myself a feminist (well, duh), I don’t think this is even falls in that category. This is an issue of having the most basic respect for a person, regardless of their gender. (But really ladies, never let a man disrespect you, especially when you’re in Ronda Rousey mode.) Keep your gym judgments to yourself because it is definitely not a competition because everyone is on their own journey. I know I’m not the only one who uses the gym in a therapeutic sense, and it’s not cool to cramp someone else’s style because you think you’re the be-all and end-all gym encyclopedia.

The bottom line is, let people work out. They didn’t invite you to work out with them, so just don’t. Unless someone asks you for your advice, you should really just focus on yourself. After all, that’s what the gym is all about. And if someone is ever killing your vibe and your workout, you have every right to tell him/her to go away.

And ladies, if a man is trying to make you feel weak or insecure at the gym, you have every right to shut that shit down. Turn the music up, give him the most get-the-fuck-out-of-here look that you can muster and continue to do your thing.

After all, you’re training to literally kick ass.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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Shannon Ho
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