I get it, you’re just being friendly. I may have glanced over at you, or I may have a friendly face, or you just thought ‘hey, why not talk to her?’. I totally get it, really. I get you’re being nice, but I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t think many women do in this situation.
The gym for me, as it is for a lot of people, is purely for functional purposes.
I want to be more toned, I want to lose weight, and I want to feel generally fitter. At the gym, I feel self-conscious, because it feels like almost everyone is skinnier or more muscular than me and I feel too aware of every part of me that jiggles. I get too hot and I sweat a lot. At the gym, I feel at my most unattractive but I’m there for a good reason, so I power on through. I don’t enjoy being there but it’s good to get stronger and the classes can be fun.
When some random guy starts talking to me, I don’t feel comfortable.
It’s rare I feel comfortable talking to a guy in most locations but at the gym, it’s even more uncomfortable. When someone starts talking to me, I’m suddenly aware I’m wearing very tight fitting and potentially see-through clothes, that I’m red and sweaty and my hair is starting to frizz. I am always aware how bad I look at the gym but I get into a little bubble so can try and tune it out as I’m getting on with my routine. When some guy comes along and starts chatting to me, toned and dry as a bone, I feel even more vulnerable and even more exposed. I don’t want general chit-chat. I don’t want to know if you’re on leg day. Even if my form is wrong, even if I’m not squatting perfectly or I’m not doing bench press correctly, don’t tell me how to do it correctly. I didn’t ask. I don’t want to hear tips. I’d instead hire a personal trainer, or I’d find Youtube videos, or I’d come to you for help. I don’t want your advice.
The same thing goes for classes.
Yeah, classes are more sociable and you can start conversations with people but I’m sitting on my matt, I’m standing out the way, I’m keeping to the side, I’m not there to talk to people. Sure, if we’re partnered up for paired exercises, we can talk then because god knows it’s so much more awkward otherwise but that’s the only occasion. A man started talking to me without prompting before an abs class then set his matt down next to mine and I didn’t enjoy the class at all, because I was constantly aware of him nearby, I just couldn’t get in the zone.
Men, women feel vulnerable a huge portion of our time outside of our home.
We can’t walk home at night alone, we have to text our friends details of our date in case the man turns out to be mean, and we constantly feel put on show, sexualised, and judged for our looks and bodies. It’s hard to relax anywhere. Let women be in their bubbles at the gym, let them get on with their routines, don’t bother them, don’t make them feel like they need to avoid the gym at a certain time or a class because they know you’re there. Don’t be that guy. Leave us alone.