By: Rachel Mangold
Edited by: Bridget Salice
I hear about it all the time and have experienced it myself. Some guy interrupts your workout to comment on your physique, your lifting form, or to blatantly hit on you. It’s uncomfortable, annoying, and even scary at times. I’ve ended my workout early and simply left the gym at times when a man has made me so uncomfortable to the point that my workout becomes useless. It’s not okay, and it’s completely uncalled for. It’s not fair that someone can ruin your training session simply because their ego is inflated, or they feel entitled to comment on your body/image when their opinion was never needed or wanted. If you’ve lifted for a few years, you might be (unfortunately) used to it and be able to brush the remarks aside. But for women stepping into the gym for the first time, or just starting to challenge themselves to be comfortable working out on their own, it has the potential to drive them away from something that should be empowering and stress-free. So, what can you do if this situation happens to you, a friend, or a stranger? Here are some tips:
- Ignore them: If you have headphones in or have the ability to walk away, this would be the first course of action. Pretend they don’t exist and act as if you didn’t hear anything.
- Respond directly and clearly: Okay so they aren’t getting the picture when you ignore them. Say something along the lines of “I’m busy,” “No thanks,” “I’m good” or just shake your head.
- Stand your ground: So now they’re really making you uncomfortable and getting on your nerves. It’s okay to be forceful and to be a little bit rude at this point. You’ve made it clear that you don’t want to talk to them. “I’m trying to work out, please go away,” “You’re making me uncomfortable, please leave me alone,” “I don’t know you, please back off” or even enlist in some help from a friend. If you see this happening to someone else (whether you know them or not) step in and back them up.
- Report them: If they are persistent and still bothering you, you can (and should) report them to facilities or management because it can be considered harassment.
Some of these things are easier said than done, and it can be daunting to be upfront with someone who is making you uncomfortable or scared. But the bottom line is that no person has the right to harass you. So, tell them that. The gym should be a place that anyone can go to feel good, train hard, and improve themselves both mentally and physically. Stick up for yourself and stick up for each other.