This month I returned to the gym after almost nine months off. I’d been doing body weight exercises and stretches at home as well as walking and running, but I wanted to get back to lifting. I wanted to do flys, which make my deltoids look amazing, and leg presses, which I can easily do up to 200 pounds. I wanted to feel strong and tough and like no one could fuck with me.
Unfortunately, I forgot how uncomfortable and ill-made gym equipment is. Much of it seems to be made for people that are 6’ tall or, at least, for no one shorter than 5’6”. Many of the machines have bulky pads that you’re supposed to rest your elbows on or lean on. Instead, these pads jam into my nipples, squish my boobs, and force me to overextend my sides. They are uncomfortable and unwieldy, which is probably why I almost never see women on them.
Instead, you’re much more likely to see women doing cardio or occasionally free weights. There are always several women walking along the track or rocking out to Zumba or going onto their second hour on the treadmill. My gym has a women-only room, which is where I usually see women doing free weights – despite the fact that the area is a third the size of the regular weight area with maybe a fourth of the machines and equipment.
While lifting is still seen as somewhat taboo among women (Oh, my God, what if it bulks me up like a man??? That is impossible, ladies. You don’t have enough testosterone. This is true for biological and transgender ladies.), it’s still the best way to get fit and, yes, lose weight. Lifting burns calories and builds muscles, which burn calories even when you’re not lifting as well as boost your metabolism. They stabilize and support you, making it easier to do cardio or any regular activity – housework, taking care of kids, walking for long periods of time, sports, dancing, throwing around heavy boxes, whatever – and can be a serious ego booster. Have you ever squatted with a 50 lb bar on your back? You feel like goddamn She-Ra.
I’ve brought up this issue with the management but considering the same 10 treadmills have been out-of-service since I was last at the gym, I highly doubt they’re going to do anything about it. Even if they actually wanted to, I’m not sure what they could do. A quick Internet search doesn’t show any equipment brand specifically made for women other than whatever’s being hawked by Jillian Michaels and the Thighmaster. This is such a shame because refusing to adapt gym equipment for women’s physiological needs is keeping half the population from being able to work out, which means that we’re also not being as healthy as we could be. Until then, I guess we just get to deal with our feet not being able to touch the ground, squeezing our boobs behind handles, and jamming machine parts into our thighs – which, by the way, really hurts.