Just a Rant: Gender in the gym

For my fitness enthusiasts: I’ve been into fitness for the better half of the decade. I was certified as a Personal Trainer in 2013, and I’ve been working in the gym setting since. The gym is a man’s world in every sense. And being of my sensibilities, I embrace the shit show, and the amusement that I gain from these experiences. The gym is a jungle of sorts, stereotypes incarnate, and gender roles fully enforced. From a biological standpoint it is fascinating, as it almost exactly mimics animals gathering at the waterhole. Men display their alpha attributes, and through mating rituals such as ‘peacocking’, hope to attract the attention of any female. Male peacocking behaviors are as follows: minimal coverage of the upper torso, any guttural noise such as grunting or groaning to exhibit effort output, gatherings of alphas in groups to increase odds of attracting female attention, use of inappropriately heavy weights to display ‘strength’, coming into proximity of any female to better draw their attention to performance, and my personal favorite; engaging in dialogue with females. It is usually something very well thought out and eloquent, like “hey girl, I see you in here all the time. What’s your number” “Do you have a snap chat?” “Do you need a spot?” “Do you compete?” “It’s pretty impressive that you know how to work out” “I like the way you work out”. Yes, I am entirely flattered that, not only were you intently watching me while exercising, but that your assessment is positive. Thank you, Chad, here is my phone number, let’s have sex sometime.

Women in the gym, apparently, are simply there to watch, and choose. Choose the biggest, most testosterone filled douche bag of them all. But women, of course are not so innocent either. Reinforcement of this ridiculous male bravado is constant. I try to actively negate this type of atmosphere through operant conditioning, text book Pysch 101. Unwanted behavior is dissuaded through negative reinforcement. If you are going to hit on me at the gym, most likely I will make you look and feel like a fool. I do this through sarcasm, or blatant rejection; depending on the mood I’m in, and the level of dick I am dealing with. I will give a direct example, this happened about a week ago. I was mid-set, a male alpha wearing a stringer and wrist wraps approached me. I did not notice until he waved his arm directly in front of my face to get my attention, as I was wearing noise cancelling headphones and not actively observing my surroundings. I pulled my head phones off and said, “what’s up” with a slight note of irritation in my tone. He asked if I could spot him. I, being a ‘fitness professional’ agreed. I asked what he needed help with, because he had walked halfway through the gym, passing several other capable individuals to ask me for a spot. He gestured for me to follow and I wanted to just end the encounter there, but I thought, no, let’s see where this goes. I followed him and realized that he was bench pressing. I would ballpark around 155lbs. I laughed. I said, “I can’t help you with that.” He looked offended and confused. “What?” “I would physically be unable to help you with that much weight. Ask one of these guys”. Pointing to the three large males working out right next to him. They smiled. I turned and walked away, but took just a second to fully soak in the dumbfounded look on this poor guy’s face. If you can read through the lines on this one, this guy legitimately just wanted me to watch him bench. I couldn’t hold back. This kind of interaction happens regularly. Regularly. Unfortunately, my psychological tactics have not been enough to see a decline in these exchanges.

The gym is a perfect representation of primal instinct, the biological genetic encoding. Mating and survival of the species. There is no sensory integration occurring, it is just an autonomic response, in the hopes of a sexual encounter. Scientists are in the jungles of the amazon studying mating behaviors between exotic birds, when they could just drive to the local Gold’s and observe much of the same behavior.

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