Home CommentaryOpinions Lifting the division and creating a safe, shared space

Lifting the division and creating a safe, shared space

by Krystina Scenna January 21, 2014
Lifting the division and creating a safe, shared space

Everybody wants to feel a sense of acceptance and validation in any setting they are in, especially when it comes to exercising in a gym.

Concordia’s Le Gym and Le Centre are close-to-home examples of gyms where males and females of all body types can go to lead healthy and active lifestyles, and do so in a safe and welcoming environment.

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

Gyms are a safe haven for many. However, when the gym’s space is being managed in an unfair and biased manner to please one demographic, there is definitely an issue.

In a recent Vancouver Sun article about a downtown Vancouver gym eliminating its women-only section, Karen Tankard, a longtime member of the Steve Nash Fitness World Sports Club, disagreed with the gym’s intentions.

“They have advertised a women’s-only section, they have sold memberships and now to start eliminating them, I think they have some explaining to do,” Tankard told The Vancouver Sun.

She also mentioned that the monopolization of gym equipment and the uncomfortable stares men would give women are the main reasons behind having a women-only section.

Spokesperson for Steve Nash Fitness, Colleen Kirk, explained the reasoning behind eliminating the women-only section.

“As part of our mission to provide the best fitness experience possible, we listen to feedback from our members and strive to constantly evolve our fitness facilities. The member base of this club has asked for a more open and inclusive training area that is gender neutral,” Kirk said, according to The Vancouver Sun.

The more respect people have for others at the gym, regardless of gender, makes for a healthier and more positive environment to workout in. The unity of genders is a positive factor to be exposed to in the gym because it enables people to do something that is vital to society: co-exist. After all, humans are social beings, therefore it is our innate need to exist in harmony with one another. It’s all about learning how to share space respectfully.

In another case, Peter Lloyd, writer for The Daily Mail, wrote an article back in April about suing his local gym, The Kentish Town Sports Centre, in London. He disagreed with the fact that men were banned during certain hours in the day to make women comfortable while exercising.

“Forcing men — whether 70-year-old pensioners or 13-year-old boys who attend with their mothers — to leave a room because of their gender, rather than their behaviour, is degrading,” Lloyd said in his Daily Mail online piece.

I can empathize with women who are uncomfortable about exercising in front of men. If inappropriate behaviour is an issue, a gym’s administration should act accordingly and remedy the situation. However, it is unacceptable to not allow someone in at certain times during the day. To omit one gender from a public space solely because their presence and their presence alone is making people feel uncomfortable is immoral and discriminatory. It also impedes on a person’s fitness goals and limits their time of being active.

In the case of the Kentish Town Sports Centre, the men who signed up paid the same rate that the women did, so why should men be allotted less hours? This is an example of what occurs when we start sectioning off a public space that is meant to be shared.

Back at Concordia, Catherine Ferriter, a monitor at Le Gym, encourages students to ask for help on bettering the various techniques in order to make working out safer and efficient. What follows is a space of dedicated people who are eager to workout and teach each other instead of worrying about who is staring at them.

If each person focuses on their workout, and is respectful in doing so, they will be disciplined enough to block out any distractions around them in order to make their time at the gym worthwhile.

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