January 28, 2020
When Elena Bunbury complained to Gymbox that she’d been harassed during a workout, the initial response was shocking: “We are in a gym where testosterone levels are high, especially during workouts,” a staff member replied in an email, adding that they themselves had never had any problems. 
How Not To Be A Dick In The Gym – Because Testosterone Is No Excuse
“Glad to see [Gymbox] staff justifying aggressive behaviour,” Bunbury wrote on Twitter, alongside screenshots of the exchange. 
The gym chain has since told HuffPost UK it will “fully investigate” the incident, adding that it will retrain all team members “on how they handle a situation like this, should it occur again”. 
But this isn’t a one-off incident in one gym. Instead, it’s a reflection of the way female gym-goers are frequently made to feel while working out.So a random gym goer harassed me and my friend at our first visit to @GYMBOXofficial, this is the response we got.. Glad to see @GYMBOXofficial staff justifying aggressive behaviour because it’s never happened to them, and men have testosterone.. pic.twitter.com/oTdVKoS08p— Elena Bunbury (@elena_bunbury) January 27, 2020We asked HuffPost readers to share their experiences of harassment, or general unacceptable behaviour, in the gym – and the responses came flooding in.
While this behaviour may be experienced by people of all genders in a gym setting, the majority of the replies we received were from women. Here, from their anecdotes, we give you the ultimate guide to not being a dick.   Do not consider your workout more important than theirs“Several times I’ve been using free weights and men have tapped me, asked me to take my headphones off, and let me know there’s an assisted machine that will work the same muscles without me getting ‘bulky’. When I’ve politely declined their unsolicited advice, on two occasions they’ve added: ‘It’s just, there are no benches left and you could use a machine instead’, as if my workout is less important than theirs because I’m lifting lighter weights.” – Jasmine Granton, 26, BedfordDo not attempt to chat someone up mid-workout “One man approached me while I was doing dumbbell rows, blatantly training my back, to ask what I was training. He followed up with: ‘You’re pretty, aren’t you?’ and asked for my Snapchat. When I said ‘no’, a guy on the bench press laughed. Honestly, it’s just an eye-roll situation for me every time, but it can be quite intimidating depending on the circumstance. In this instance, I was just annoyed.” – Ella Glover, 21, ManchesterDo not touch people without their permission “The worst thing that happened to me was when a random guy grabbed my arm as I was walking through the gym to look at my tattoos. He then proceeded to touch and turn my arm. 
“I was angry he felt he could grab me, and I was angry that I was too shocked to give him a mouthful. It may have been completely innocent and a genuine interest in my tattoos – but don’t put your hands on me. The gym can be intimidating for many people without unsolicited contact like that. Luckily, I feel comfortable there, so just keep your hands to yourself and get on with your workout.” – Meg Cox, 25, LoughboroughRelated... Chances Are You've Been Planking Wrong This Whole Time - Here's How To Do It Right Do not film people without their consent “I was once filmed by a guy at the gym. I was working out by myself on the floor, when – mid squat – I saw him standing behind me recording with his phone. I stared at him and turned around, and he slowly backed away, still looking at his phone. As he walked away I could see he was still recording. Then I had to walk home alone in the dark – it felt like the longest walk ever.” – Lucy Campbell, 26, LondonDo not stare at other gym-goers “I decided to work out in a sports bra because it was boiling and the air-con wasn’t working, but I ended up having to move to the females-only section so I didn’t feel like a caged animal in a zoo being watched by pervy onlookers.
“I was really frustrated I had to move, because men found it okay to stare at me like I was doing something wrong. It made me feel like a piece of meat, like a spare body part. You can appreciate or not appreciate someone’s body without making them feel scared or vulnerable.” – Emily Nagioff, 26, London Do not offer unsolicited ‘advice’“People come to correct my form when I’m weight training – I’m a petite yet busty woman, so my form is right but it looks different to [theirs] because I have curves. Also, no one asked bro. 
“It used to affect my confidence because the weights section is male-dominated anyway, which is daunting. If I see someone doing an exercise that I’m not sure of my own form for, I might watch them and even approach them for tips. But when it’s unsolicited, it’s so off-putting. – Anamika Talwaria, 24, London  Do not comment on people’s weight “I’ve had the same personal trainer approach me about five times in a row to tell me what I’m doing is ‘ineffective’ and that I need to ‘do a session’ with them to shift ‘all the weight’. I do incline intervals on the treadmill and I’m noticing results. 
“It makes me angry. It’s just really judgmental – they’ve assumed I want to lose weight for a start, which isn’t the only reason a person goes to the gym. And I feel as though because I’m curvier, it’s assumed I’m inexperienced and don’t know what I’m doing.” – Alice Hobbis, 24, From BirminghamDo not blame women for ‘distracting’ you“A guy said to me when I was on the treadmill: ‘You should get a new sports bra, all that jiggling is very distracting’. And the worst part was he genuinely thought that was a good ‘come on’ line and proceeded to try and chat me up.
“It made me feel embarrassed, because I was jiggling a bit. Then I felt furious and got more angry the longer he stood by the treadmill trying to chat to me. I also felt like everyone around me knew what was going on and nobody said anything. I don’t go to the gym anymore because I just hate the creepy atmosphere. I just run in the park or go to yoga classes.” – Anon, 27, LondonREAD MORE: How To Improve Flexibility Day By Day – And Why It's So Good For You Gym Box Slammed For 'Mocking' #MeToo By Suggesting Thai Boxing Will Deal With Your 'Sleazy Boss' All This Home Fitness Gear Fits In A Small Space
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