Women Only Classes
Do you think women only classes are a good thing or a bad thing? In response to seeing the kind of training I like, a guy recently posted a comment on here saying ‘if you like that, you should come try out my women’s class where we do a lot of the same stuff.’ I appreciate the sentiment and always appreciate offers to train but it kind of got my nose out of joint. My first thought was ‘oorrrr, I could just train in the regular class, with guys there.’
Though I’m sure he probably didn’t mean it in that way at all, I’m sure for some trainers, there is an automatic assumption that women will be more comfortable training with other women. We’ll be more likely to find someone of a similar height/weight/strength in a women’s class if partner work is required and we’ll feel less self-conscious (if you’re the type to give a crap about being self-conscious when you work out, which personally, I am not).
Now, don’t get me wrong, when I first got into fitness, I dove in the deep end and went to a real down and dirty boxing gym. Walking in, I was petrified. It was very intimidating and uber male. But I’d only been in there a couple of minutes and felt completely comfortable. It was all about the training and what I loved most was that I was treated as an equal. I wasn’t treated differently because I’m a girl, exercises weren’t modified for me, we all trained at the same level. It felt good to be on a level playing field and be respected.
I’ve also been in boxing gyms where there’ve been guys who’ve been completely uncomfortable doing drills or sparring with me. Clearly, an unwillingness to hit a woman is hardly a bad trait but there needs to be an understanding that this is a controlled environment and if I didn’t think I could handle it, I wouldn’t be there.
I’ve been in a circuit class where I’ve carried a 6’3″ man twice around the gym, running. I don’t struggle to keep up if men are in the class. If anything, maybe it pushes me a little harder as I don’t want to look like a wimp.
Then I got to thinking – maybe this is all really judgmental on my part. Do I actually not enjoy working out with women as much? Hmm, well, I do, but as long as we’re a good training match. I like to go complete beast mode during a workout. I find there are still a lot of women who go to vanity gyms and like to do their safe workouts, not push themselves too hard, take the easy option. I don’t want to be in a class full of women like that. I want to be pushed. The circuit class I go to is full of women like me, we push each other to go harder. A women’s only class full of those women, I’m totally on board with. A women’s only class full of women who half ass it and don’t want to mess their hair up – I will give it a miss.
However, saying all of that, I fully understand why some women would be more comfortable in women’s only classes. Back when I lived in Canada, I briefly joined a women’s only gym and I must say, it was nice to have access to a weights area free of beefed up douchebags admiring themselves in the mirror. And perhaps when you first start working out, women’s only classes take the edge off and get you comfortable.
I’m not saying we should axe them, I understand their purpose, I guess I just object to the assumption that that’s what I prefer. The connotation is that the women’s class will be easier and that I shouldn’t be hanging out with the big boys. Maybe we just need to show them how badass women can really be.
Where do you stand?