Mansplaining in Fitness

Over the weekend, the Thrive Tribe Movement’s Body Positive Book Club got together to discuss ‘Landwhale’ by Jes Baker, and the conversation, at one point, veered toward fitness spaces.

Chief BoPo Trainer Meg asked - ‘who here feels comfortable in the strength training portion of the gym?’ Literally no hands were raised. In fact, this brought up a bunch of stories about being in the strength training portion of the gym and receiving unwelcome advice from men.

Now, we want to acknowledge that most of these men truly believe they are being helpful. Men who spend a lot of time in the strength training part of gyms assume they know what’s best, and want to spread their knowledge. However, all you guys out there - WE DIDN’T ASK. And, unless a woman specifically asks, it is safe to assume she does not want your help.

Our trainer Meg, in fact, has been approached several times in gyms she has worked for in the past, while exercising on her own time, by men trying to correct her form. Many of these times, she has calmly explained that she is an ACE certified professional and she was actually working toward a different compound movement entirely so she knows what she’s doing, thank you very much.

But not every woman has a personal training certification. So, we compiled some advice for what to do when being mansplained at. We hope this empowers more ladies to head over to the heavier weights and squat racks!

  1. EXPLAIN THAT YOU DON’T WANT HELP -

    • This is probably the most difficult thing for women to do, having been conditioned by society to graciously accept everything thrown at us. But, if a man decides to correct your form, try to spot you, or help take weight plates off your bar, you have EVERY RIGHT to say ‘thanks, but I don’t need your help.’

  2. WEAR HEADPHONES -

    • You are less likely to be approached when listening to music, and if you are you can just turn your music up. If the man persists, however, feel free to report him to management.

  3. TAKE A FRIEND -

    • Power in numbers, y’all.

  4. JOIN A WOMEN-OWNED OR WOMEN ONLY GYM -

    • These spaces tend to be more expensive, but the security of knowing you won’t be harassed can be worth it.

  5. SPREAD THE WORD -

    • Tell your guy friends about how gym mansplaining is a problem. Sometimes, it takes a conversation to help a man realize that telling a woman she is doing something wrong in the gym is the least helpful thing ever.

  6. PERFECT YOUR GODDAMN EYE ROLL -

    • Screw being nice. If some dude is getting all up in your movement time, roll your eyes, shake your head, and raise up your hands and shoulders in a way that says ‘dude, seriously?’ then go back to your motherf*cking workout.

How about you? What are your gym mansplaining avoidance tips?