Why some women are calling for women's-only gyms - Women's Running

Why some women are calling for women’s-only gyms

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  November 30, 2021

According to a recent study, 2 in 5 women avoid the gym because men make them feel uncomfortable

A recent study of over 1,000 gym-goers by Origym has revealed that 6 in 10 women have been harassed in the gym, with 2 in 5 of those surveyed stating that they avoid going to the gym altogether as a result.

According to this new research, searches for ‘women’s-only gym’ have increased by almost 70% over the last year, with more women seeking to avoid harassment from men and focus solely on fitness. Of the women surveyed, over a third said they’d prefer a women’s-only gym option, and nearly 40% said they believed they’d benefit from women’s-only spaces.

The most common forms of harassment that the women who were surveyed encountered included men standing too close or brushing up against them while they worked out, men making inappropriate or sexual comments, men offering unsolicited training advice or being patronising and men laughing or jeering at them.

The study made clear that, while some women may prefer to exercise outside of the gym, they should never be made to feel unwelcome. “It’s a stark reality that women could end up getting less exercise due to avoidable gym intimidation,” the Origym experts said.

Some of the women surveyed chose to avoid certain areas of the gym, rather than avoiding the gym altogether. Around a quarter of women, transgender, non-binary and gender fluid people were found to have avoided the resistance, weights and swimming spaces, citing the male-dominated environment as their reason for avoidance.

Another concerning discovery was that men tend to avoid classes, with more of them stating that they fear judgement from other men rather than a genuine lack of interest in class-based activities.

Origym went on to list several ways that men could make women, transgender, non-binary and gender fluid people feel more comfortable at the gym, from giving people space to avoiding commenting on their appearance. You can find the full study, including the list of tips for men, here.

If you’ve experienced harassment at the gym or anywhere else, you can find support here.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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