Why aren’t there more women in the gym?

So today I want to talk about women. The male-dominated gym environment of the 1970s is slowly disappearing and we are seeing more and more women working out on a regular basis. But getting through the door is just the first step. Seeing more women train each and every week is a brilliant thing but there is still a clear disparity in the ratios of genders, particularly when it comes to strength training.

Going to a spinning class, yoga or pilates at your local gym, you would probably struggle to realise that there was far less women going to the gym than men. Make your way over to the free weights though and it becomes as clear as the nose on your face. Thankfully this is slowly starting to change. More women are starting to lift and more are sustaining it over a long period of time.

So why is there such divide? Well I’ve already mentioned to old emphasis on male domination. The gym was a place where men could go to focus on building up a sweat and working out and women just weren’t invited. That school of thought has generally been eradicated now and with good reason. But there are other factors too.

One reason is that some women think that if they add weights to their workouts that they are going to get a masculine appearance. Well I’m here telling you that isn’t the case. While men and women are equal, it is important to remember how different we are physically. That bulky, muscular appearance can be attributed to man’s near monopoly on testosterone. So unless women are injecting unnatural levels of the hormone then they aren’t going to be building muscles like their male counterparts. Now that doesn’t mean that women can’t build large muscles relative to their own body of course. So if that’s what you are after don’t worry! You need to remember that every man that lifts weights doesn’t look like a competition bodybuilder. There are massive variations. So not every woman who decides to lift is going to look like Jodie Marsh.

moving on from the 1970s we then found the exercise videos for women of the late ’80s and ’90s. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t ever criticise somebody for helping to encourage exercise. But if you have read this blog for a while you will probably know that I do criticise those who promote it with incorrect information. Hopefully you know the videos I am talking about – high reps, low weight and plenty of spot reduction. We now know that fat is lost around the whole body when we exercise. We don’t have a magical ability to choose where we lose fat from. And to be honest, it’s ridiculous that we ever thought that we could!

Then there was this belief that if you stopped training that your muscle would turn into fat. How did anyone actually buy this? Did people really think that muscle could change physical state and become something completely different? Well don’t worry. That won’t happen, ever.

I’m sure there are other reasons why women don’t seem to have the same affiliation to free weights as men but times are changing. Women absolutely should have access to all the same information and equipment, that’s a given. But it is important to remember that men and women do have physical differences and therefore their training will be different. But strength training can be incorporated into anyone’s workouts, whatever their gender.


Ollie Lawrence
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