i remember it clearly.
I was doing some work experience with a PT at my local gym. A new gym member had a session with the PT to go through her new complimentary program. We went into the ladies' only section of the gym and proceeded to show her what to do for her workout.
One of the exercises was a back extension. If you don't know what that is, check out this video. The unfortunate thing about the ladies' section, was that this piece of equipment was right next to the door into the main gym space. Directly outside the door was a frequently used assisted pull up machine. There was always people using this machine.
The PT demonstrated, and then the new member had a try. It was at this time I noticed that a group of young guys had come to use the pull up machine outside the ladies' area, and they had spotted the young lady using the back extension machine and they were getting a "good view" as she bent over the machine. This made me really uncomfortable for her, so I tried to position myself between them and the young lady. But the trouble with that was, I was now in the same viewing position as them! Super awkward, even though I was trying to protect her from a really embarrassing and uncomfortable situation.
How many times have we found ourselves in situations where we feel uncomfortable because of our bodies? Where we feel unsafe to be a female? We feel people's stares, we hear them commenting on our bodies and clothes whether it's a whisper to their friends or a cat-call from a group of tradesmen. Other people even think it's okay to touch us without our permission. We've been at the gym, emotionally vulnerable, trying to make improvements to ourselves so we can get our confidence back, and we hear comments there too. We avoid the treadmill because there's a gym-creep who likes to watch bouncing boobs as women run. We wait until the stretching area is empty so we can work on our flexibility without being watched. Maybe we even change gyms because when we were deadlifting at our old gym, one of the trainers commented on how good our a** was looking, and who in gym management would take a complaint from little ol' you seriously about the most talented trainer working there?
These are all made up scenarios, but I know it's happened. I've heard of much worse things happening. It's wrong. This #MeToo movement goes so deep, and it goes way beyond the current hashtag generation.
My Commitment To You
As someone who has experienced sexual harassment, it is my commitment to you, to make sure you have the best, safest, most comfortable fitness experience possible.
It should be everyone's commitment. Men and women alike should be looking out for each other, and checking each other's behaviour out of respect for their fellow humans. Because let's face it, even though women being harassed by men is the most common form, nobody is safe from harassment.
If I train with you in-person or online, I commit to sticking up for you, to showing you respect and to backing you up.
I commit to believing you and supporting you when you find the courage to speak up.
Thank you to the many courageous people who have spoken up about harassment, and thank you to those at the forefront of educating people about how we can respect each other better.