When I left the gym in tears for the second time in a week I knew I needed to come home and write about it.
I just hope I can communicate my thoughts clearly!
In words of Monica, “I did something kind of crazy tonight, um, maybe I’m getting my period or something, I don’t know.”
No, I didn’t beep into anyone’s machine.
I left the gym in tears tonight because I couldn’t do my deadlifts.
I’m serious, that’s what set me off. Deadlifts. I can tell you that I am seriously emotionally relying on the gym and powerlifting. I have stopped drinking which was a previous stress reliever, albeit an unhealthy stress reliever. Now the gym is my only outlet coupled with my husband being away right now… I can understand why I got emotional. The gym is also my social outlet and lifting helps improve my mood, especially while he is away.
But let’s set those emotions aside, tonight I want to talk about being a female in the gym.
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to generalize and suggest that all women feel this way, so don’t take offense to this if it doesn’t apply to you. Actually, bravo to you if it doesn’t! I am striving to be more like you!
So as I said, let’s set all of the emotional aspects aside. Let’s assume that my overly-emotional-stressed-out goggles aren’t impairing my gym vision and these people were actually being rude, because, let’s get real… they probably were.
I have been getting a bit OCD with my workouts lately and when they don’t go as planned I start feeling anxious and overwhelmed no matter how unreasonable it is, I just can’t help it, so when I realized that the only true deadlift platform in my only semi-powerlifting friendly gym was taken I said to myself, “It’s okay, Sarah. Do something else first.”
I asked the “gentleman” using the platform how many sets he had left. He said he’d be about ten minutes. “Okay, thanks,” I said and went on to do back extensions nearby, but did not stand right there because I find that rude. I wanted him to feel free to take his time.
An old man known for doing deadlifts in our gym walked in a few minutes later and beelined for the squat racks. He stood right next to the platform, it was clear he was not going to go anywhere and planned to go next. Not only did the “gentleman” doing deadlifts not say “I think she has next” (am I the only one who always says that if someone else tries to sneak in??), but he let the Old Man Deadlifter work in and continued to do so for another half an hour.
I decided to do box squats on the Smith Machine instead. It looked like nobody was over there… but wait, as I got closer I saw it was loaded up with 4 plates on each side. I looked around, but nobody was to be found. Turns out it was taken by a group of men who were off socializing taking 5 minute breaks together. It’s called gym etiquette, people.
I tried and tried to be flexible, but this kind of thing happened four times in a row when finally I just went to the locker room and started taking selfies so I could take to Instagram and share my frustration.
I have a few thoughts on what happened and need to organize them into bullets so I can make some kind of sense of them.
- Yes, I am well aware that I could have been pushier. My husband always tells me to ask to “work in” or be pushy about having a bench or squat rack next, but it’s easier said than done for me. I just can’t find it in me to be that way, but still, it is completely my fault that I did not get a good workout in. I am aware of that.
- That being said, being a new-ish female powerlifter trying to get comfortable in the “bro” parts of the gym can often be uncomfortable enough as it is! I see so many strong women on Instagram and Youtube dominating in the gym, but in my REAL life, there are very few women I know who actually venture away from the cardio area, strength training machines, or classrooms. I am often one of the only women using that type of equipment in my gym.
- So, there is already the immediate discomfort of trying to get used to being the only girl in the bench area or one of the only girls doing deadlifts. On top of that, I have to admit that I also fall into the group of women that are statistically less assertive than men. I once read a study that girls in school more often say “I think…” when answering a question while boys are more likely to say “I know.” It’s not a statistic I want to enforce, but sadly, I can see it ringing true with myself sometimes and that upsets me in and of itself.
In conclusion, more than one person was at fault tonight at the gym, but most of all, me. I truly believe these gym-goers were being rude and there are many men (not all) who make women feel uncomfortable in the gym. That being said, the fact that I let myself get stepped all over is unacceptable.
Why am I allowing myself to feel uncomfortable just because I am a female trying to get into a male-dominated sport? Why do I let these guys and my own insecurities get in the way? I am strong and good at this. I deserve to have my time with the squat rack just as much as anyone else. Now, putting that into practice will take… well, practice.
Once again, I feel the need to emphasize my little “disclaimer” that not all females feel this way and I am definitely not implying that all men act this way 🙂 I don’t mean to generalize at all! I am just telling you about an experience I had.
Question of the Day:
Have you ever felt insecure in the gym? Tell me about it!