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Women's magazine writer complains about 'gender-specific deterrents' and 'gender gap' at the gym. Guess she never heard of Curves.


Good grief

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Garnet Henderson, a choreographer, journalist, and body-positive personal trainer wrote an article for Glamour magazine in which she called out the "gender gap at the gym."

Henderson noted that the so-called "gender gap" is preventing women from working out the way they want, and, in some cases, at all.

What are the details?

In her article, Henderson documented one young girl's journey at the gym. The young woman, Sayeeda Chowdhury, really wanted to "find the courage" to enter the cardio room at a local gym, but "never imagined" that she'd ever step foot in the weight room, which was "filled with testosterone."

Chowdhury eventually got over her reluctance and joined a gym, according to Henderson, and stopped paying attention to who was watching her during her workouts.

"Chowdhury definitely isn't the only woman to feel a sense of gym intimidation," Henderson wrote. "If you've ever set foot in a bro-y weight room and suddenly felt like everyone was judging you, you know the feeling."

Henderson went on to describe that such negative encounters at the gym "contribute to a gender gap in physical activity legals that harms women's health."

So now, apparently, men are damaging women's health.

"Just like the wage gap, the gender gap at the gym robs women of a better future," Henderson wrote, and laid out a detailed analysis of what was ultimately responsible for what she called the "gym gap." In short, "gender-specific deterrents" are responsible for keeping women out of the gym.

Some of those "gender-specific deterrents" include weight stigma, harassment while running, the "actual design of most gyms," as well as the "social attitudes" that those scary gym designs reinforce.

What did one professor say?

Stephanie Coen, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Nottingham in the U.K., also explained that gyms are often male dominated, which is apparently scary on many levels.

"If you close your eyes and think of the gym, the imagery that often comes to mind is vividly gendered," Coen explained.

Henderson went on to break down how "female-dominated spaces" can also be harmful to women's psyches.

"Even female-dominated space can promote some discouraging messages about working out," she wrote. "I once joined a women's gym and was disappointed to find that the intake form included questions asking new members to state how much weight they wanted to lose and what parts of their bodies they wanted to change."

Anything else?

Female-dominant gyms — or even strict women's-only gyms — aren't an anomaly.

Fitness guru Elaine Powers opened some of the very first nationwide women's-only gyms in the 1960s, which were called "figure salons."

Then came more women's-only gyms like Lucille Roberts, Curves, and Spa Lady, which don't even account for all of the gender-specific gyms that are small, regional franchises or privately owned mom and pop businesses.

Something you don't hear much about? Men-only gyms.

1979 Elaine Powers Figure Salons

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