North Central University’s Women’s Gym Times

April 17, 2023

I amble into the incredibly compact scalene triangle shaped gym (if you need a refresher on what a scalene triangle looks like I totally get it, I had to double-check myself too) and feel every eye peer over at me. I discovered I am a solitary female in the gym. Ugh, again. I reassure myself they are probably upstanding gentlemen just ‘doing their thang’, but I have discovered the pleasure of being surrounded by a little more estrogen when breaking into a sweat. I hastily stride past the weightlifting equipment, to the backroom where the treadmills reside, and find it wondrously empty. Score. Unfortunately, this story is just one mild account of the myriad of stories throughout the cascade of my years of working out. Most times I have been uncomfortable in the gym was far more severe. I fear that I am not alone in my gym experience as a female at the gym. 

Working out might feel vulnerable and intimidating, especially in the early stages of learning the ropes. But beyond the initial anxieties of learning to work out in an indoor facility, a survey by Women’s Running found that 76% of women find themselves uncomfortable while working out in a gym for fear of comparison, fear of objectification or staring and fear of harassment. Many studies on this topic consistently come back with the same percentages of uncomfortability. These women are experiencing real fears that I myself have experienced at various workout facilities. Too often, I fear these apprehensions come to life, 46% of women feel unsafe while working out, 44% cut a workout short due to unwanted attention, and 63% of women change their behavior such as changing their clothes if there are only men in the gym. Not only do most women feel uncomfortable, but 73% of women say that a women-only gym would be preferable. These statistics are frequently pushed to the wayside or altogether ignored. Well, my fellow female gym goers, I am happy to report that there are some here at North Central University that have entered the fight and are doing something about it. 

Clarissa Rowe, the Delta Kappa director, has been a huge advocate and proponent of making sure this new gym setup was available to the women of NCU. Her greatest goal in the creation of the women’s gym times was to“create a safe, fun, and comfortable environment for women in the gym space.” Furthermore, from her perspective, the greatest benefit to the female gym hours institution was “having that extended invitation for women to feel like they own and are a part of that space.” Her desire was to create a space where women could feel comfortable to work out freely. Not only did she want to create a space where women felt comfortable to workout but, “Many women had expressed interest and excitement about the idea of having a women’s gym time. And for those who attended they said that it felt very welcoming and comfortable.” 

One of those students was Isabelle Krebs, a junior Communications Journalism major. Krebs has attended several of these events and has found that she loves the idea of women’s gym days. “I loved the idea of women’s gym hours. I’ve gone fairly frequently, especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays, however, the last five or six times I’ve gone there are usually always a few guys in there” said Krebs. Although she has found this to be frustrating. She said,“When you are promised to have a guy-free gym time and then you walk in and there are guys.” There have been times when women have gone into those gym times expecting it to be only women and found guys were in the gym at those designated times. Krebs thought that finding a way to make it clear that is a women’s only gym time would be beneficial. 

Despite the expressed desire of women to have a women’s gym, there have been some roadblocks to overall greater success. Rowe stated, “I think that it’s taken an adjustment for people to realize there are women’s gym times. We would love to see more involvement and people coming and get it to a place where this is the standard. Hoping to do some things in the future that get more women excited and wanting to come to the gym during these times.” This change has been an adjustment for the NCU gym community, to remember this change and to comply with the change of the women’s only gym times.  

Clara Galley, a junior Media Arts Communications major, is a part of NCU’s Delta Kappa women’s ministry, who has played a significant role in marking this recurring event a reality. From Galley’s perspective, much like Rowe’s, the goal of this event has been “to provide a time and space where women feel free to workout in an environment free of the potential judgment. Often women, including myself, deal with a lot of insecurity around working out with men present because they are afraid of being judged on their form, body, or anything else that may affect their gym experience or view of themselves in that space. Having a time for only women to work out helps to eliminate some of this anxiety.” The goal of this space is to ensure that the women of NCU feel safe and comfortable working out at the NCU gym by removing what might be an insecurity for a lot of women. 

Rowe also acknowledges those who have helped make this event possible in light of her passion to make this event a reality with Student Body President Derek Burgin were, “Mike Knipe, Katie DeWitt, and Mary Seggs and were able to have a sit-down meeting with them to discuss some options and concerns. They were super supportive and helped us understand and work through some of the roadblocks that we faced.” Rowe would like women to know that the student leaders and staff on the NCU campus work “hard to try and meet students’ needs and desires. We care about the students here personally and strive really hard to create those spaces and opportunities where all students are feeling supported.”

If you are a woman at North Central University and would like to participate in the NCU Women’s Gym Days the times are Wednesdays 3-5pm, Saturday 10am-12pm, and Sunday 1-3pm! Rowe’s biggest hope for the NCU women’s gym times has been that “this becomes a part of the norm and is something that gets carried on through the years. My other hope is that it fulfills its job in getting women excited and comfortable to come to the gym and through that connection and community is made.” Come join us at the North Central University for the women’s gym times!

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