I really wanna know…
Over the past week, I’ve had several conversations with women who’ve told me that going to the gym and (particularly) lifting weights is intimidating for them.
I know I should already realize this, and I guess I do, but I really want your feedback on this issue.
Specifically, I’m wondering exactly what you find intimidating…is it the big dudes grunting and groaning over at the squat rack? Is it the endless array of machinery? Is it simply not knowing where to start and what to do? Is it something else that I’ve not even thought of?
Incidentally, a lot of you girls don’t give yourselves enough credit in my opinion…after all, lots of you are already participating in very skill-intensive step, cardio, dance, and similar classes right? Now from a guy’s point of view, THAT’S intimidating!
OK, over to you…let me hear your take on this subject! Just click the “comment” link above to post your message.

17 Comments
  1. Will Brink 10 years ago

    What’s a real shame is, women benefit from resistance training on all fronts compared to what they get from some cardio class. See you in the gym ladies!

  2. Emma 10 years ago

    Just commenting on that i myself do not get intimidated by the “big” guys lifting their weights whilst i am having a workout , if anything sometimes its good to just watch and see if there are any ways that they lift there weights that i have not seen and understand which muscles they are working . Everybody has to work out somewhere , and all because i dont quite want to build body mass , does not mean i feel intimidated by these guys .

  3. Reyna 10 years ago

    I have been lifting for a little under a year, and what I found most intimidating was how most people at the gym were in such better shape than me, and felt uncomfortable being the chubby girl lifting rather than running off the fat. I don’t stare at folks in the gym intentionally, and I realized that most other people probably don’t either. As time has gone on, I’ve become more comfortable in a weight room with the understanding that we’re all in that place for the same reason: fitness.

  4. Diane 10 years ago

    I’m on the other side of this spectrum – I love to hit the weights and I hope women can get other the lie that “lifting weights will make you look bulky and unfeminine”. On the contra it makes you nice, lean and sexy.

  5. Margaret 10 years ago

    I have had problems at a gym with men of a certain ethnic origin regarding a woman using a bench as contaminating the equipment.
    ‘Brothers’ will uphold them in this. As I am not easily intimidated you can imagine the problems I had. It was under control untill the gym stopped employing trainers, and any problems had to be referred to a reception person, ooops! I will admit that it was a somewhat rough gym in a poor area, I work out at home now.

  6. Gail 10 years ago

    Being a 52 year-old woman who loves, loves, loves pushing weight I freely admit in the beginning I was very uncomfortable going to the gym. First off, some men (not all) treat you as if you have only slightly more intelligence than a brick wall. Secondly, if you have no idea what to do or where to start it can be very confusing and intimidating just looking at all the equipment. I only got over feeling intimidated by taking a weight training class at the local community college. The teachers were just awesome. And most of the “boys” in class were more than willing to help explain stuff. Now, I have no hesitation AT ALL about walking in to any gym to train. I still take classes at the college and I am routinely the oldest person in class, and often the only woman…but that’s okay, I’m there to workout just like the next person….and those “boys” are more than willing to spot me!!

  7. Leslie 10 years ago

    I have been weight training for around ten years now and even though I am probably considered an “institution” in the weights room, there are still times when I will feel uncomfortable, usually when there are groups of young men training together and swearing a lot (they obviously feel that they get a better workout if F*** is grunted out). I have realised that they are not doing it for my benefit however, it is more to impress their friends so I try to let myself be amused.
    The tips I would give to women who feel intimidated are:
    – remember that most people are more interested in their own training than watching you
    – train with a girl friend or make conversation with other women in the gym
    – try to talk to some of the men – you would be surprised, they actually like being friendly
    – when you don’t know how to use some equipment or need help getting weights off of the racks, ask some of the men – I find they are more than happy to help.

  8. Will Brink 10 years ago

    Great comments ladies! Keep ’em coming! 🙂

  9. Augie 10 years ago

    I’m not sure if the issue is intimidation as opposed to misinformation. When you listen to the stuff that comes out of the mouth of people such as Tracy Anderson (Kevin Larrabee discusses it here: http://thefitcast.com/?p=894) it’s surprising women even consider weight training. I mean c’mon, telling women they shouldn’t lift more than 3-lbs?!!
    Any chance of having Elissa pay Ms. Anderson a visit? 🙂

  10. Kris 10 years ago

    I would say irritated more than intimidated. I have been in the weight room since I was 14 (I’m 43 now). I’ve used weights as a way to cross train when participating in other sports and now use them as a regular part of my workouts. When lifting in the weight room, guys can just be obnoxious, mostly by stacking multiple machines so they can rotate through them or taking 10 minute breaks between sets to rest, thereby taking up space on the machine I want to use. I never seem to have these issues with any of the ladies in the weight room. And I agree with other comments about the loud grunting and cursing. Not necessary!
    I would say to any woman who feels intimidated is to educate yourself. I wouldn’t take advice from most of the guys I see lifting as lots of them (not all of them) use improper form or do exercises I think are ineffectual. I would recommend hiring a trainer for a few sessions to get the right exercises using proper form or there are plenty of good magazines or websites, such as this one, to get good information from. Or better yet, go with a friend who is more knowledgeable about the weight room.

  11. Robyn Booth 10 years ago

    I definitely don’t feel intimidated in the weights section of the gym now, but maybe did a bit when I first started. Probably what minimised that for me though, is that I started with a trainer who took me through everything a number of times, so that I knew what I was doing when I went there alone. I think some women may feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what they are doing and feel self conscious of making a fool of themselves amongst the ‘big boys’. If only they knew how many times the ‘big boys’ do things the wrong way!

  12. Connie Francis 10 years ago

    Intimidation is really not an adjective in my personal dictionary when it comes to weight training amidst guys in the gym. It has never crossed my mind that I am in the gym in competition with any one. I really don’t care who’s around, I just do my thing, my way and my style. I am only mindful of my gym manners toward fellow gym users, that’s all. I do what I do and nothing more. As a matter of fact, I have just applied to take a diploma course in Fitness Training & Nutririon at 49(who cares) because I have a passion for finessing and would love to develop myself further. I encourage women to develop self confidence so issues of intimidation and such like do not feature. Hey Girls hit the gym big time and take control there y’all!!!!

  13. Tuija Barr 10 years ago

    Hi Charles. I guess it`s the doubting look in their eyes: `Is she able to do it?`( too heavy) or `S h e cannot do it!`(not so ripped woman, but quite strong muscles under the round outlook ). Many women enjoy lifting weights and the good feeling afterwards. Not every one wants or needs to look ripped or a model. It is not nice to be an object. And of course many women make themselves look idiots lifting 2 kg dumbells in the name of `toning`their muscles and they spoil the reputation of serious women. No wonder many men look and serious women, too. I would say: heavier weights, girls! and you hopefully are left alone. Tuija.

  14. biking_girl 10 years ago

    My experience is Yes people watch you, both male and female, but who cares? I know this as I have had breast cancer and the side of my surgery is obviously weaker than the right. When I use bar bells to bench press the left is always a little lower so the guys being very helpful usually always point out that I am crooked and give me little pointers to try to keep it straight. I appreciate their help although I really can’t seem to change the bar. Whatever, again who cares. I find some women more annoying than any guy grunting, watching or whatever bothers some women. Either picky over guys or jealous because you can lift more than them or they think they are the Queen of the gym. Guys are down to earth. They are meant to be stronger and warrier like so what. Lift at your own level and keep pushing harder. No need to feel intimidated, men and women are everywhere, get over it.
    DL

  15. Mary 10 years ago

    Being a gym rat, I know men don’t like to share the toys. When I first started lifting a few years back, doing my supersets, I had 15#, 20# dumbbells at my bench. A guy comes over and starts to take my 15#, I told him I’m using them….he says, YOU DON”T NEED ALL THOSE….I tried explaining I’m doing supersets, be done shortly….he gets smart…so I says….’what you want the 15”s for…GO HARD OR GO HOME SWEETIE!’ He told me to ‘f’ off and I laughed.
    Ignorant trainers in gyms (yuppy ‘poser’ gyms) are the worst. They are never prepared to train their clients and can’t pulll another exercise out of their butts if a piece of equipment isn’t available. Recently I’m in the middle of killer shit and this woman trainer comes up and wants my BOSU ball. I was pissed and asked her why she’s couldn’t deviate or think out of the box….I kicked the stability ball and left.
    Needless to say, I canceled my membership and go to a real gym and also have a mini gym in my basement. I’m adding equipment as I go and also in the middle of making my own sandbags.

  16. Paula 10 years ago

    I go to the gym simply to lift free weights. What is intimidating is how the men look at you–I don’t dress provocatively, but in order to be safe when lifting, I do wear close-fitting clothing. I keep my earphones in and avoid any direct stares, but men are such dogs!
    I also avoid lifting around men who obviously don’t know what they’re doing–bad form, poor lifting, and poor etiquette. I’m sorry, but there is gym etiquette–learn it bozos!
    Wipe up your sweat, and stop throwing the weights around! It’s scary.

  17. DaleK 10 years ago

    I was intimidated at first certainly. I didn’t want to be around all the men mostly because I had ZERO clue as to what I was doing. BUT, all the cardio was just not doing it for me so I had no choice but to be a man and suck it up! 😉 So I would take a set DBs and hide in a far corner – only venturing nto the crowd if I had to.
    Come to find out, nobody bothered me, nobody stared. Nobody cared about what I was doing except for me!! Most of the guys in my gym were just as clueless and and/or insecure as I was. These days the boys just get in my way! 😉
    I think too many women are less inclined to go anywhere near a gym, much less free weights, due to body image stuff. I wouldn’t step foot in my gym until I lost weight – and that was just to use the stupid treadmill! Which is entirely unnecessary given that most people are not paying a whole lot of attention anyway. For those that are? Give ’em a show – they usually get the message or get scared – either way they’ll stop! 😉
    I’ve found that men are simply not accustomed to seeing a woman in “their” section of the gym – so any attention is related to that than anything else. I just keep my headphones on at max volume and don’t make eye contact.

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