Workout culture subconsciously reinforces sexist norms

In Opinion
Courtesy of MCT
Courtesy of MCT

Welcome to the gym; it is time to hit the elliptical.

There seems to be a certain gym culture that has not only segregated men and women but become sexist towards the abilities of women altogether.

While those of the XY chromosome have a tendency to gravitate toward barbells and machine-assisted presses, the fitness itineraries of women are often shoehorned into a cardio-oriented niché.

This socialization of sexism within the weight room has effectively limited the potential for those women who fail to venture from their customary elliptical rut. Conventional weight lifting offers a host of benefits to both genders, with real limitations existing only within the minds of those choosing to participate or open another bag of chips.

Mellysa St. Michael of WebMD said, “If you’ve recently joined a health club, you may find the environment intimidating.”

Intimidation is a big factor in the gym culture. In a place whose customers are predominantly male, it is easy for women to feel outnumbered and scared while working out, nonetheless trying new equipment or a different exercise.

Go to any gym and it’s easy to see that females tend to stray more towards the cardio machine while males stay close to the lifting equipment.

For a woman to stray into the “men’s” part of the gym would be no different than a gazelle walking through a pack of lions.

There is a sense of segregation in the gym that is difficult for women to transcend.

Dominic Lucibello of the Examiner said “a few ladies venture out into the vast sea of fixed machines but misconceptions and lack of knowledge keep them from leaving the carpeted areas.”

The notion that lifting has developed a sexist connotation towards women has prevented the female culture from stepping out of their comfort zone because societal norms tell them not to.

In addition to social inf luences, many women burden themselves with unnecessary internal pressures. Self-victimization can be propagated by the myth that lifting metal will immediately result in the acquisition of a Herculean physique.

This myth is falsified by the amounts of testosterone generated in women’s bodies relative to men. Produced in a man’s testes, a woman’s ovaries or in the adrenal glands, this hormone is a primary component of muscle development. Women generally have only one-fifteenth of the testosterone present in males, according to BodyBuilding.com.

In fear for their physique, women choose to avoid any heavy lifting and instead opt for light cardio, but this choice of limiting themselves has further fueled the segregated gym culture.

Women are in a constant battle with themselves to look and act a certain way. The idea of mind over matter has never been more true.

Liberty Becker of Boston Magazine recalled an instance at the gym when she started heavy lifting.

“Whenever I was lifting, I could feel the stares at my back. The men, so unused to finding a woman among them—let alone one hoisting heavy weights— were outright astonished. The women passing through to the second-floor yoga room simply looked uneasy, as though put off by the sight of a woman doing something so unfeminine. It was embarrassing. It took all I had to keep returning to the gym,” Becker said.

The female generation ceases to believe they can physically and mentally do more than what they limit themselves.

The reality of the matter is that there is nothing men can do that women can’t. While differences and relative advantages do exist, a woman’s sex should in no way limit her experience in the gym and the exercises available to her.

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