As a fitness instructor, nothing infuriates me more than hearing stories of women getting creeped on in the gym.
NOT OKAY. And you don’t have to take it. This is not a fact of life. This is harassment.
The gym is a place where you should feel safe, supported and empowered. If that’s not how you feel at your gym, it may be time to shop around.
Please consider the following:
1) There is absolutely never an excuse for you to tolerate harassment when you are PAYING for services. In a gym setting, it is the management’s JOB to keep you safe and make you feel welcome.
2) If it feels creepy, it is creepy. Don’t waste your time and energy playing the, “Is it in my head? Maybe he’s trying to be nice…” game. Life is short. You are busy. You know a creeper when you see one and it’s not your mission in life to take care of their feelings.
3) Businesses should have sexual harassment policies in place to protect both their employees and their customers. At my , our instructors watch to make sure that students treat one another with respect. When students approach any of us with concerns about classmates’ behavior, we take immediate action to deal with the situation in a way that makes the person who has been harassed the most comfortable. Usually this has involved having a conversation with the person whose behavior is inappropriate.
Once, a young man tried to bond with one of our male kickboxing instructors by saying, “I’m only here to pick up girls. I tried it before with yoga but that didn’t work out so I thought I’d give this a try.” The instructor firmly stated that the women at our studio were here to work out and that they were not interested in that kind of attention. He explained that “pick up” behavior is distracting, uncomfortable and inappropriate in this setting. The young man stopped attending classes shortly after that, and we were 100% satisfied with the outcome. We would rather lose one customer than have several people feeling uncomfortable.
Steps to take if you experience creeping or other harassment at your gym or class:
1) Report the incident to the instructor/manager. Ask if they have a harassment policy. If not, be clear about what you would like to see happen from this action. “Will someone from the gym please talk to this person and ask him not to stare at other members? Please let me know when that conversation has happened.”
If the behavior continues…
2) Try again. “You know, on (date of last complaint) someone told me they would address this situation. Did that happen? I’m still experiencing harassment and that’s not something I should have to deal with as a paying customer.”
If the behavior continues…
3) Last chance. “I’ve now complained twice about this issue and it has not been resolved. If this is not addressed I will be leaving this gym (and telling everyone I know exactly why I left).”
OR you could take the shortcut and deal directly with the creeper.
“Hey! Stop staring at me.”