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Old 09-29-2011, 08:09 AM   #1
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Default The Free-Weight Area - A Woman's Perspective

I wrote this when I first started training and the rules still apply! Enjoy.
As much as I enjoy being a woman, it definitely isn’t always easy. In search of a new way to challenge my body, I decided to invite myself into the “men’s club” at the gym – the free weight area. This area is one that is highly feared by my gender for many reasons. As much as I love the gym and love working out, even I steered clear of it. Firstly, I had no idea how to use the equipment and didn’t want to look like an idiot teaching myself. It was dominated by men who seemed quite comfortable there, using equipment I had never seen before and moving from exercise to exercise with perfect stride. In addition to this, I would be the only woman in the free-weight area and by that very nature, would be the “outcast”. I spent my entire childhood in that capacity – recreating that scenario was not in my plans.

So, I signed myself up for a free-weight orientation. A member ambassador/part-time trainer took me through the area with my training plan and showed me how to do each and every exercise. I was comfortable looking like a rookie as long as I knew what I was doing, even if not with total confidence. I worked out with this trainer for 3 of my 5 workouts a week for the first few months of my training and became confident enough to rock it all on my own and even bring in some new exercises and make modifications to my training plan as my strength and ability increased. Those workouts when I was with him were great. I didn’t have to worry about looking like an idiot and I didn’t feel insecure about being there. The days I did not workout with him however – were horrible. I hated it and actually considered working out instead, in a Women’s Only facility.

Instead, I took my concerns and anxieties to my therapist who brought me through each and every step of my workout from the time I entered the gym to the time I left and we uncovered my insecurities. They are the same as all women have and they are the reason that Women’s-Only clubs exist. My inner brat said: “NO WAY”. I am NOT being scared away and forced to use a facility that is further from my home, with less-convenient hours, just because I’m a little bit insecure. I developed a new attitude: I pay JUST as much to be here as these men do. Their leering is inappropriate and I don’t have to tolerate it as a “fee” to be in “their” area. I don’t have expertise in this area at the moment – but I will. I was not going to let a few Neanderthals get in the way of my bettering my body. I am NOT that girl. Never have been and never will be.

Since then I have rocked that area of the gym. There are definitely days when I’m just not feeling great about myself or my body and I secretly wish I was either invisible or that Lululemon made a gym-moo-moo, but for the most part I keep to myself and get to work, and work through any distortions I have about being there at that moment. There are some men who make it very difficult to be there, but I work at it. One of the ways I distract myself is to observe the way people function in the gym when a woman is around. It’s rare so the opportunities are few but it amuses me nonetheless. I often think to myself that there should be a code of conduct, written from the female perspective, for all to read. I realize that concept is politically incorrect, discriminating and certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, so I made one for fun. If you are a woman, I hope you feel less alone from reading it, and identify with the power I gained from it. If you are a man, I hope you pay attention and learn something.

Sophie’s Code of Conduct

I am not lost. I know exactly where I’m going, exactly what I’m doing. There is no need to stare at me like I have escaped from a mental hospital.

I am a woman. This is easily identifiable by glancing at me once. Staring isn’t necessary.

When you watch me complete my entire set, YOU look like an idiot. I have never seen a man watch another man complete a set at the gym and there is no need to watch me.

I wear an iPod but with only one earbud. I hear you when you lean over and ask your friend “do you think they’re real?”

I realize it’s been a while since you have sat in a classroom but reading is a skill that usually follows you for life. There are signs posted everywhere that suggest it is courteous to remove the weights from your bar when you are finished with them. I, like you, am in a hurry to get my workout in as well and cleaning up after YOU takes up MY workout time. I am not your wife. I am no one’s wife, and that is not an accident.

Since you have been leering at me since I arrived in the free-weight area, I’m sure you can see that I am more than capable of removing plates from racks and bars on my own. I am not wearing a bonnet and I am not being followed by sheep. I am strong and able. Please don’t come to my “rescue”. It’s very sweet of you but no thank you.

When you are finished your set and motion to me that it’s my turn to use the bench and I have a disgusted look on my face, it’s because you left something behind. Ball sweat. Lots of it. I am not going to lie on your ball sweat, nor should I have to. There is a sign for that also. I’m not suggesting someone needs to wipe their bench down each and every time, but if you can look down and see a very visible outline of all the muscles and curves of your body in the form of a sweat puddle – get the spray and towel. For the love of God.

If you leave a bench to go chat with a friend during your rest, I’m going to use it. I don’t care that you have 3 more sets. So do I. You would work in with a man, so you can work in with me. I am not going to say, demurely: “oh, sorry, tee-hee” and scurry off to wait patiently.

Do not give me suggestions on my form. I know what I’m doing. Go tell the giant steroid monster that you have a recommendation for HIS form and let me know how that turns out.

Lastly, and most importantly:

Please don’t flirt with me. I have to work very hard to feel like I belong in the “men’s club” and looking like the gym-bicycle is not going to help me gain or keep any respect there. You are respected in the free-weight area by default because you come equip with a penis. I have no such luxury. I am a person. Just like you. Talk to me like a person. Not a girl, because sadly, “girls” are not people in this cozy little area of the gym.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:18 AM   #2
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Please don’t come to my “rescue”. It’s very sweet of you but no thank you.
Haha...My favorite part right there.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:21 AM   #3
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Nice post! I dread going to the gym when it's full, not that I've been at all, yet...but it will happen and then I'll probably notice quite a bit of the above; knowing my luck, I'll end up in hysterical bouts of laughter as I recall the above post.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:22 AM   #4
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:23 AM   #5
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Sorry this is not like me at all but that post made me cringe so hard I was almost sick. Are you for real?!?! Get over yourself. Seriously.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:29 AM   #6
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I feel for you. That's one reason I like my gym. It's locally owned but large, and has members or every type. Little old ladies next to powerlifters, and there are always women using weights. My wife even lifts in the freeweight area, and she tells me it's hilarious that guys don't think she knows they're staring even though there are mirrors on every wall.

What can I say? She looks damn good, and wears spandex pants. I stare at her sometimes, and we're married.

That being said, no one is ever blatantly disrespectful or surprised to see women lifting there. The more women realize how much lifting can help them reach their goals and start doing it, the less "odd" it will become.

I know personally, I get annoyed when people don't know what the hell they're doing, whether they are male or female, but I never disrespect them because of ignorance.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:29 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by muscleboundmama View Post
Please don’t flirt with me. I have to work very hard to feel like I belong in the “men’s club” and looking like the gym-bicycle is not going to help me gain or keep any respect there. You are respected in the free-weight area by default because you come equip with a penis. I have no such luxury. I am a person. Just like you. Talk to me like a person. Not a girl, because sadly, “girls” are not people in this cozy little area of the gym.
I love watching guys look like complete tools trying to flirt with women. The wifey and I have been together for quite some time so its been a long time since I've had to flirt with anyone other than her. Lol, but I can guarantee you that most guys will never get a quality woman talking the shit that comes out of their mouths.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:31 AM   #8
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Very nice post. Good to see a woman who's not scared of lifting heavy things.

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Old 09-29-2011, 08:32 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Soldier View Post
My wife even lifts in the freeweight area, and she tells me it's hilarious that guys don't think you know their staring even though there are mirrors on every wall.

What can I say? She looks damn good, and wears spandex pants. I stare at her sometimes, and we're married.

I know personally, I get annoyed when people don't know what the hell they're doing, whether they are male or female, but I never disrespect them because of ignorance.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:34 AM   #10
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I love watching guys look like complete tools trying to flirt with women. The wifey and I have been together for quite some time so its been a long time since I've had to flirt with anyone other than her. Lol, but I can guarantee you that most guys will never get a quality woman talking the shit that comes out of their mouths.
True! And like I said in the post, I KNOW not all men are like that. I have some good guy friends at the gym who would never disrespect another person, much less a woman - this is my perspective from MY experience. If others have a different experience - i'm GLAD!
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