McMaster University’s Department of Athletics & Recreation is home to a wide range of facilities. With three different gyms, two dance studios, an indoor track, a climbing wall, a sports hall and a mindfulness centre, there is only one thing missing: separate gym hours for different genders.
Personal health and finess is not limited to a specific gender and should be practiced by everyone.With the rise of body image insecurities and a growing advocacy for judgement free atmospheres, numerous fitness facilities in Canada are creating more welcoming and supportive spaces for women to achieve their personal fitness goals.
Though McMaster does offer a women’s only circuit within The Pulse on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., it does not exclusively open the facility up to just women. It certainly does not support women who want to work out individually, and feel comfortable on their own terms.
Besides Curves, which is a women’s only gym dedicated to building strength and confidence plus diligent weight loss programs, GoodLife Fitness has been adapting and actively responding to women’s fitness and health needs. GoodLife Fitness for Women offers over 100 ‘For Women’ locations and almost 50 ‘GoodLife for Women’ clubs.
In addition to women’s facilities, GoodLife also caters to other needs by offering a child-minding team to keep children active while moms exercise, attend dance classes, or do a full circuit workout in 30 m inutes.
A few universities have been considering the possibility of on campus women’s-only gyms.
With the rise of body image insecurities and a growing advocacy for judgement free atmospheres, numerous fitness facilities in Canada are creating more welcoming and supportive spaces for women to achieve their personal fitness goals.
In February 2016, McGill University’s Facebook page had an intellectual discussion in the comment section of a Facebook post about the possibility of having women’s only gym hours in the McGill Athletics Centre, and excluding men from the fitness centre for just four hours a week.
According to McGill Daily, Ryerson University and the University of Toronto have already implemented women-only gym hours, and revealed that participation increased in facility spaces that usually had low female participation, which is understandable given that many women typically don’t enjoy an environment of unnecessary grunts and toxic masculinity. I certainly wouldn’t. This is why it is important for us to include everyone in the pursuit of healthy living.
Undeniably, men and women are different in certain respects. In addition to physical diversity, in most religions and cultures, men and women have different roles and responsibilities.
I’m sure for women who wear hijab, sweating in what would be comparable to a hat and scarf and doing 30 lb squats in front of men would not encourage women to go to the gym. Which is why women-only gym hours is a more equitable resolution for women. With this solution, McMaster does not need to invest creating a new recreational space. In addition, excluding men from the gym for a certain number of hours may increase productivity and focus for each gender, knowing that they have a certain time frame to achieve their fitness goals.
I’m not saying that men and women should be separated altogether. Women-only gym hours do not mean that there will be no women in the gym. It just means that for those who don’t want to share the co-ed experience, they won’t have to. In the 21st century, diversity and equity in the gym isn’t much to ask for.