Leave your Sexism at the Door: Gym Rant

Image from madcrossfit.com

I have  been working out regularly 2-3 times a week for the past 7 years. I know this is nothing to brag about, but hey I’m also not a gym virgin either. So when men come up to me and assume I don’t know how to properly use a machine it pisses me off!

Yesterday I was at the gym, and it was one of those days where I went more to zone out between each rep and enjoy the solitude and freedom of not having a baby on my boob or my hip. It was very slow, obviously it was Valentines Day. Maybe that was my first mistake, never go to the gym on Valentines Day, it encourages people to talk to you and who wants to talk at the gym?  I was casually walking over to the lower back extension machine and I took a second to look at adjusting the height. Apparently my moment of thinking I wonder which lever I pull to lower this machine? was an open indication that:

A) I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

B) I don’t know how to properly use the machine without hurting my little self.

C) I am open to conversation.

Just to clarify, nothing from that assumption is true.Without asking, a man leaned over in front of me and adjusted my machine to the height he though was appropriate for my frame and then instructed me on proper form. After he was done yammering, I pulled out my ear bud, and said I didn’t hear any of that, but thanks. He walked away, clearly my tone must have indicated I was less than interested in his advice or anything else he was offering. There was a second time when someone just walked up and adjusted a piece of equipment for me because I hesitated about 15 second to examine which lever to adjust.

Maybe I am being overly harsh, maybe these men had my best interests at heart. But this is the third time in a month that a  man has approached me at the gym and gave me unsolicited advice. It’s insulting to me that they assumed I needed help. Now I’m insecure that I look like an idiot at the gym. Last month I was working on my vertical jump at a huge equipment piece and I was hitting a handle high up in the air for my target and a guy came up to me and asked “Do you need me to get that handle for you?”. Oh gee, thanks Mister,  I would have been jumping here all day had you not come along. Seriously? You really think I’m jumping up and down 30 consecutive times in a row to to get that handle?  I am aware of the numerous step stools around the gym, mmmm k, thanks. Was he being a sarcastic asshole? Was he genuinely concerned that I was insane?

Maybe I cut them off before I know the truth behind their offers of help. Sometimes I wonder if I’m putting a vibe out there of helpless woman which is really the most terrifying notion. My only console is that women never make the assumption that I’m witless with weights.

For all of the men who are truly concerned about a fellow gym member, if you see a someone at the gym don’t make assumptions. If you are truly concerned about the way he/she is eyeballing a machine, know that if they can’t figure it out they will move on to another machine or ask the staff for help. For the men who are just looking to strike up a conversation, belittling a woman by swooping in to help her on a machine isn’t the way to win hearts or impress her, just be honest in your approach. Although I can tell you from multiple sources that women loath being approached at the gym.

I am not helpless, clueless, weak, or ignorant.


The crabby mom at the gym.


Author: Rachel McKee

I love reading about everything. I'm not a book snob. Lately I have been "reading" a lot of picture books to my toddler and baby. In my past life before motherhood, I was a professional technical editor and writer.

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