From 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., students filter in and out of Gregory Gym, tired and sweaty from their workouts. The on-campus gym is equipped with weight rooms, racquetball courts, rock climbing, basketball courts and much more. However, the gym still lacks an amenity that many other gyms guarantee — a women’s center. UT needs to create a women’s center in Gregory Gym so that women feel more encouraged and comfortable when working out.
Oftentimes, it can be difficult for some female students to go to the gym because of a lack of confidence, especially for those who have never been to the gym before. As a result of social stigma, the gym can be seen as an overly masculine place, and women may feel alienated or intimidated as a result.
“The gym is always so crowded, and there’s always more guys there, especially in the free weights room,” said Annabelle Furrh, a business and Plan II freshman. “A lot of times, girls can feel intimidated to go in there and grab some weights, as weightlifting is seen as a thing men do even though it’s important for women to do also.”
In addition to the embarrassment women can feel when at the gym, there is also the question of women being able to have a space in which they can be comfortable in their workout clothing without feeling judged or looked at.
“Often women feel that if they go to the gym in leggings and a sports bra, people are just going to be looking at the way (they’re) dressed,” Furrh said. “That can be a really uncomfortable situation — when you’re just trying to work out but men around you could be focused on something else.”
Although there is an exercise room at Kinsolving, an all-female residence hall, it is open to residents only, excluding other women on campus. In addition to this, it is ill-equipped and inadequate when compared to the facilities at Gregory Gym.
Creating a women’s center at Gregory Gym would not be a difficult task. A center such as this would simply entail sectioning off a room at the gym equipped with weights, a few treadmills, machines and mirrors. Existing equipment could even be moved or any new funding could be prioritized to buy new equipment for a women’s area.
Furrh said the implementation of a women’s center would be a great addition to the gym, especially since it could potentially encourage more female students to come work out. Furrh, who goes to the gym around three times a week, said she and other girls would feel more comfortable coming to Gregory Gym if a women’s center was available.
When creating workout spaces, it is important to take into consideration ways to make women more at ease. Women should not have to feel judged or awkward when trying to exercise because of inexperience or clothing, and UT should ensure female students feel more comfortable in generally male-dominated settings, such as the gym.
Nayak is a communication sciences and disorders freshman from Austin.