Most women feel intimidated when they first enter the weight room of a gym. They worry that all the buff guys and girls will immediately know that they are a newbie. This feeling will pass after a few weeks, but what may not is the constant harassment from men.
When I first joined my gym in Sydney, the head trainer pounced on me right away. He didn’t try to sell me anything, but every time I was in there he asked me a lot of personal questions. Initially I was polite but to the point, responding with a forced smile and very short answers.
After about a month of tolerating this, his creepiness stepped up a notch. We always trained at the same time, and he would follow me around the gym – conveniently needing to use the machine or rack right next to me. Whenever he could get away with it, he would try to work in with me. I was using the Smith machine once and he asked if he could work in to do pull-ups, of all things. There were at least five other places he could have done pull-ups, and the gym was empty! He also suggested doing an 11-point body fat test…in private.
The final straw was when I was using the TRX one day for an ab pike (see, I don’t totally hate the TRX!) and resting in between sets, with my feet still hooked into the ropes. Mr Creepy came over, knelt down and whispered: “I just wanted to tell you how good you look on all fours”. Before I had time to pick my jaw off the ground, he winked and walked away.
Rob wanted to march in there and kick this guy’s butt when I told him that story! The problem was that this guy was the head trainer, so there was only one person above him I could have complained to, and that guy was one who insisted on calling me ‘babe’ every time he saw me despite knowing my name full well.
Nevertheless, it was the last time the trainer ever spoke to me. For anyone who’s in a similar situation, here are my five best tips to avoid being hit on while you’re working out:
1. Wear headphones
I really don’t like lifting weights listening to music. Firstly, I dance whenever I hear music I like so I often have catch myself grooving in between sets. Secondly, it distracts me. While music is good for rest periods, I like to be completely focused when I’m lifting. So a lot of the time I will just put the headphones in my ears, and not turn the music on. Instead of starting conversations with you, guys will just nod, smile and move on.
2. Dress like you mean business
I know a lot of women would dress in ragged old sweatpants and a 10-year-old t-shirt with holes in to avoid being hit on, but I happen to like wearing Lululemon! I enjoy looking cute while I lift, and I’m not about to change that to avoid attention. But whenever I wear a shirt featuring a supplement brand, my trainer’s bodybuilding logo or my personal favourite below, guys will only talk to me if they’re asking about serious training.
3. Don’t be afraid to grunt
As they say, if you look pretty when you’re working out, you’re not training hard enough! While my Lulu may look cute, my sweat stains and scrunched up face most certainly do not. When I do leg and back workouts, especially, I make a decent amount of noise as I struggle through the last few reps of each set. When you grimace and groan, it tends to keep the guys at bay.
Of course, it helps if you can outlift them too!
Just looking at a man somehow usually invites conversation. Keeping the eyes down works like a charm, and also try wearing a hat. Don’t worry that people might think you’re rude – anyone who knows anything about training will know that you’re there to work. If anyone gives you grief, give them the ol’ stink eye!
5. Join a gay gym!
The gym Rob and I have joined is full of gay men. While plenty of women use the gym (only for cardio!), we seriously have not seen one heterosexual male in there. It’s awesome to be able to do whatever I want and wear whatever I feel like in the gym without worrying that someone is going to ogle me while I do stiff-legged deadlifts (you know who you are!).
Do you get hit on in the gym? How do you put a stop to it?