Photo: Saints Sport

An Open Letter to the Guys Who Tried to Intimidate Me in the Gym

Your gender does not entitle you to anything.

The gym, for me, is an important place in times of stress. It helps me sleep better, it relaxes my mind so I can think clearer and, most importantly, it makes the unholy amount of chocolate I have consumed in my comfort-eating a little bit more okay. So, as I find myself in deadline week on a Wednesday night, also far behind in my dissertation, and unable to drink myself into oblivion with the rest of the hockey club because of this, what do I do? I go to the gym.

The gym is busy, but I’ve stumbled across the holy grail: not one but TWO free squat racks. Christmas come early. So I set myself up, feeling smug as a wave of people wash in and out looking for a free bench or rack (the one behind me is now also taken) and off I go.

And then you two walk in.

Now, unlike the other guys AND girls who walk in looking for a spot and, unsuccessful, turn away to find something else to do, you both choose to hover. I’m used to hoverers. They stand in the doorway or near the benches, or just do some bicep curls while they wait because do you even lift, bro? But oh no, not you.

Photo: Huffington Post

Now, as far as I’m aware, girls lifting isn’t a revolutionary thing. Yes the whole “strong not skinny” ethos is relatively recent, but to see a girl on a squat rack, on a weight machine, or on a bench lifting all manner of weights is no longer unusual. Yet, you looked at me as if I’d just stumbled out of a spaceship from another planet or, a rather more accurate description, as if I’d just entered the wrong bathroom. Forgive me if I missed the “entrance for those with a penis only” signs.

I want to know at this point why you chose to target me. It can’t be because I’d been there for an overly long time – I’d only been there about ten minutes. It also can’t be because it looked like I was nearly done – I was consistently adding weights. So why did you ignore every other guy in that room, who was doing exactly the same thing I was, and just choose to intimidate me? The reason seems glaringly obvious, and if you won’t say it then I will: because I am female.

Catching guys watching me doing squats is something I mostly find amusing because of how guilty they look when you catch them watching you. You two, however, were shameless. Barely three feet behind me, you just stared. Flagrantly. And every now again made “oooo” noises only I could hear. It was blatant intimidation. And then, when that didn’t work, you started the woe is me “Aw mate, we’ve come all this way” chat, perhaps to appeal to my womanly sensibilities. Sadly for you, I do not possess these faculties. St Andrews is tiny. You did not go that far. And maybe next time, instead of trying to push people off of equipment, you should just go do something else. Weights are not life.

Photo: Zelsh

But I’d like you to know this: you didn’t succeed in making me cut my set short, nor did you make me go any faster than I normally would. The only thing you did was to make me feel extremely uncomfortable and more stressed than I was when I went in. In short, you were total assholes and gained nothing.

So when you’re next in the gym and find the equipment you want unavailable, know this: everyone has their different reasons for working out, and everyone has as much right to use the equipment in the gym as you do, regardless of gender, age, weight, muscle mass or any other distinguishing feature you want to throw into mix. You are not entitled. You are, rather, just two pathetic and deplorable people.



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