Gender in the gym … it’s a hot-button topic for many of us.
So in the spirit of starting internet battles, I’m linking to a collection of 8 articles all about it (one of which is by me) over on Breaking Muscle (click here to read them).
My Views On Gender In The Gym
My personal feelings on the issue come from being a gym owner and coach, and that heavily colors my views.
For me, the question is how to make sure we have an environment that fosters bad-assery all around for whomever is willing to put in the work. Your gender, or sexual orientation, or anything else – that we COULD use as a delimiter – should be as irrelevant as humanly possible to whatever we’re doing.
I have NO interest in pandering to stereotypical shit just to get more women, or men, or lesbians, or whatever through the doors. Not because I don’t believe in marketing, but precisely because I think that shit doesn’t work as well.
That kind of thing is a way of treating my clients like statistics, like trends, rather than as an individual person who probably bucks convention in a surprising number of ways once you get to know them.
Hell… I am certainly like that! I have never fit in well in “dude” environments, even though I AM a straight male who loves lifting heavy shit. Aren’t I supposed to love wearing camouflage cargo shorts and Tapout shirts to the gym rather than pink socks and glitter? Aren’t I supposed to prefer listening to metal while I train rather than the Spice Girls Pandora station?
I’m an individual, damn it… and so are YOU.
Our Gym Is Paradise… To Us
Maybe I’m biased, but I like how Tamara and I run our place… Asheville Strength.
Our gym is at once extremely, and unabashedly “hardcore” – we yell, scream, slam weights, curse constantly, and are perpetually covered in chalk…
Example of some heavy lifting at our place:
Also Good For A Laugh
But we also go out of our way to be inviting to newbies and people who are just trying to have fun lifting – we have mini disco balls, zebra-print athletic tape, will put almost anything on the radio, are ALWAYS laughing and making jokes, bring in donuts as “workout fuel”, have totally oddball impromptu competitions (all in effort to kick Chelsea Kay’s ass… we usually fail).
If it wasn’t for the actual lifting going on, you might think we were just having a non-stop block party in the gym every day.
Want proof of our shenanigans? Here’s our encounter with aliens from outer space:
And here is a make-shift supplement review with 3 of the girls:
Almost by accident we have a place that is very open to just about anyone so long as they are just cool people. We don’t have some overly “male” or “female” vibe… it’s just a fun vibe.
Yes, our gym is more than 50% of the lady variety… but then, so is the general population. So that hardly seems weird!
IMO, so long as you go out of your way to treat EVERY client as a real person who you get to know well and understand, then you don’t have to worry about “gender” or anything else that our society is all up in arms about every 5 seconds.
I love joking that I’m just one of the girls… but really, we’re all just people. (Don’t pretend like that didn’t make you want to shed a tear.)
NOTE: Eight years ago, when I was first starting my 1st Olympic weightlifting club (PDX Weightlifting), I got onto the phone with Dan John to get some help and advice. He said, “Do you want to build a serious competitive team or do you want a Kumbaya kind of club? Either one is fine, but it helps to know what you’re trying to do.”
Well Dan, I guess I did both 🙂
The above is a video from our new place.
But the vibe we had back at PDX was almost exactly the same. (NOTE: if you are ever in Portland, you need to check out Vulkan Weightlifting. It’s coached by Arron Steiner and Trevor Smith who were my lifters and assistant coaches “back in the day”, and is THE place to be in Portland.)
A few (a lot of?) questions:
- What do you think?
- Am I too Libertarian about this?
- Is it better to take a harder look at the differences between women and men to better service them?
- ARE there any differences between the genders that matter that much in a gym situation?
- If so, is “gender” even enough of a delineation? (I’m hardly someone who fits into a “binary/traditionalist” view of gender… and I’m not alone in this.)
- Does my perspective only work when dealing with competitive athletes who all share a commonality that transcends gender?
- What about the general population who needs A LOT of help just getting into a gym and staying there in the first place?
Let me know what you think below!
PS. If you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for our FREE “How To Snatch” online coaching series: Snatch Domination.