Open Letters

An Open Letter to the Man at the Gym Who Won’t Leave Me Alone

Dear Man at the Gym –

I love the gym but you make me not want to go sometimes. When I’m at the gym I am in my own zone, I am doing it for myself and I love it. There is no competition for me at the gym — just the girl who stares back a me in the mirror and the voice that pushes me in my head.

Now I have met very nice men at the gym, and I don’t want to say that men cannot approach women at the gym. What I will say is that if I have already told you that I am okay and do not need help, please do not continue to stare at me for the rest of my workout. Do not continue to follow me as I move around through my exercises. Moreover, please do not touch me as I am working out. I cannot stress that last one enough.

You might see me as the weak girl at the gym because I am not lifting 100s of lbs. But unbeknownst to you I spent 4 weeks training to become a personal trainer. I know the muscle groups in the body, proper lifting techniques and how to create a workout just for my body. Unknown to you, I was a swimmer for 10 years, I do Yoga, Pilates, and I run all for my health along with lifting. You see a girl at the gym. I see a woman crushing her workout, challenging her body, and making herself stronger.

Now I am not perfect and if I ever need help I’ll be sure to ask. But I wouldn’t ask you. I would ask one of the many trainers that the gym provides. Why? Because I see how you are at the gym. You don’t ask any of the men if they need help. You don’t go over to them and stare while they do deadlifts and squats. And you certainly don’t try to touch them as they work out. So why not grant me the same respect? Why not grant the other women who lift the same respect?

My body is not at the gym for you. My body is at the gym for me. So I can be stronger, and fitter and so I know how to protect myself should anything or anyone ever try anything.

So you don’t get to take my safe haven from me. You don’t get to make the gym uncomfortable for me. Because my existence there isn’t and never was for you. I won’t rack my weights down. I won’t stop lifting. And I still won’t accept your help. I’m going to continue to lift and challenge myself. Because the gym is my time and while I will ask nicely this time, like I did the last– if you continue I will have to talk to management. I will not be silenced on this. I’m tired of being forced out of spaces.

Consider this your last warning.