10 In fitness/ who am I

Women-only fitness – not for me

There are a lot of women-only fitness initiatives happening at the moment – running clubs, classes at almost every gym, This Girl Can and so on. They are very popular and it’s obvious that lots of women prefer to work out in all-female surroundings. I tend to stay away.

I have always had female friends, and women can be amazing and inspiring and badass, BUT – large groups of unknown women make me feel uncomfortable.

I asked Twitter what others think of women-only fitness groups and lo and behold – I am a minority. Most people thought that female-only fitness initiatives were crucial in getting women to exercise and get involved in sports. It was said that without men involved, women feel safer and less self-conscious in sporty activities.

I can totally see the point. Even though I can’t relate.

It must be that our experiences growing up determine whether we like to get fit in mixed groups or feel safer with just women.  I have come across plenty of jerks (male ones) in my life but none of them made me feel bad about my body. Girls, however…

My very first serious bullying memory is from when I was 12 – a group of girls in my school, half of whom I thought were my friends, decided one day that I walked funny. The next weeks (or maybe even months) were not nice.

Next I was bullied about being a bit too large (I wasn’t). I went on a diet and was then bullied about being on a diet.

Plus I had an older sister who was not nice to me about my appearance when we were growing up.

From early on I learned that women tend to size each other up and judge and criticise. Constantly and sometimes totally ruthlessly.

I have never been bullied by boys though, not when I was a teenager, nor later on. I have not had any men ever comment negatively about my body, no matter what size or shape I’ve been in. In my experience men don’t overanalyse women’s bodies the way women overanalyse women’s bodies.

Even these days it’s only women who have given me ‘friendly advice’ like “You should really stop putting on muscle now, it’s not very feminine to look like that.”

Of course these are not my friends, only randoms, but I still stay away from women-only fitness classes. In mixed groups or even with just men I just feel much more relaxed and comfortable. I feel everyone’s just concentrating on the sport at hand and no-one is analysing anyone else’s fitness level or body measurements.

I am aware that these days I’m surrounded by adults and not teenage girls, so the likelihood of every woman I meet judging me and sizing me up are slimmer than they were in the past but my brain has been programmed to fear unknown females in large quantities.

It is awesome of course that women who are opposite of me and feel more relaxed exercising in all-female company can now do so in so many places and in so many sports.

As for me, I love my trusted group of girlfriends, but if I have to get sweaty in a group where I don’t know everyone very well, I hope it’s mostly (or at least 50/50) men.

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  • Reply
    February 25, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    mina tunnen ennast trennimaailmas üksikuna. Kui nii vanalt spordi avastad, nagu mina, siis ma nagu ei sobitu ühtegi gruppi. Vanad spordikauged naistuttavad vaatavad imelikult, uued on kas väga palju nooremad või lähevad hoopis teises suunas ehk et kellegiga pole jagada mingeid lõuatõmbamise ega rinnalt surumise rekordeid. Ja ma ka eelistaks nagu Rainegi sportlikku meesteseltskonda, aga kust sellist leida, seda tean ma veel vähem. Ma mõtlen ka pidevalt crossfiti peale, aga Tallinnas on ainult üks koht ja minu jaoks logistliselt ikka täiesti karupees ning trennid on ainult õhtuti, kui ma kodus ema mängin…..et siis nii kaua kui midagi välja ei mõtle, siis käin üksinda jõusaalis ja treener mõõdab rekordeid 🙂

  • Reply
    February 23, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Ma eelistan alati meestega matkata-suusatada-ronida ja isegi rulluisutada…naised räägivad nii paljudest mõtetest asjadest, et mul lihtsalt viskab kopa ette. Juba oma laste sõprade emadest mulle piisab! NiiEt – sa pole üksi 🙂

    • Reply
      February 25, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Mis ‘imelikud’ naised meie siis oleme, et ei viitsi naiste juttu kuulata ega ajada? 🙂

  • Reply
    Anna @AnnaTheApple
    February 23, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Fully agree with this. Girls can be such bitches. Luckily I haven’t directly experienced any nasty bullying but in general snide remarks or passive aggressive behaviour is always from women. Men at gyms are just a bit lecherous at times with staring but that’s it. I always say it’s harder to be a female than a male as with males if you have an argument they fight it out. Females…there’s a whole load of indirect, underhand, passive aggressive behaviour that is far more poisonous.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2016 at 9:56 am

      I think women from early on are somehow / by someone taught that to feel better about themselves, they should tear others down. Men just mind their own business and worry about their own problems 🙂 Or so it seems. Women sadly find it harder to pat each other on the back. BUT I think times are slowly changing and women are slowly changing too.

  • Reply
    Katie G
    February 23, 2016 at 11:22 am

    You’ve made some interesting points here..
    I was bullied for being taller and bigger than all the other girls at school, it’s not easy going to a school which specialised in ballet when your 5’6 and 12 stone at age 13.
    I enjoy female company and like to encourage other women or feel encouraged myself – However I recently had to unfollow/mute a series of women whom were constantly making me question my ability.
    It’s my fault for allowing them to make me feel that way and the issue does lay with me, as I allow myself to create crazy situations in my mind (!) I forget we are all too busy focusing on ourselves to worry about others.
    So in a long winded way, as appealing as I find the idea of women’s fitness, I think the emotions/possible bitching related would not be for me.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2016 at 9:57 am

      Definitely half of my problem is allowing myself to create crazy situations in my head too! It’s like once you’ve been judged once you feel that EVERYONE is always judging you. Which, of course, is not true but the paranoia lasts forever! 😐

  • Reply
    February 23, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Although I do support the This Girl Can campaign, I personally don’t understand the whole not wanting to race or workout with men attitude. I had the misfortune of attending an all girl’s school and was bullied between the age of 11 and 16. Running and PE lessons were my escape from the bullies. Since school, with the exception of the Race for Life and some cross country races, I’ve avoided women-only sports and fitness classes. That’s why I love horse riding so much. Nothing beats watching women and men competing in the same classes.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2016 at 10:02 am

      I went to a mixed school but one of my first experiences with girls-only situations was sororities in US universities. I never joined one but heard so many horror stories from others who did join (why?!?) that it made me even more wary of large groups of women. I am so glad my school was not girls only!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I’m with you here! I have always liked working “men heavy” office and quite often I’m only women in my CrossFit classes 🙂 Same time I played in ladies volleyball team from age 10, 5 times a week + matches on the weekend and that was fine too, but I think team sports are bit different. I think men are simple to understand at least most of them 🙂 and they don’t make fuss over nothing.

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