Calls for women’s- and LGBTQ- only gym time

by | Oct 28, 2016 | Life

Olivia Morris


The number of males using Humber’s athletic facilities could be intimidating to female and LGBTQ students.

Female and LGTBQ students have reported hearing sexist and demeaning remarks and experiencing unwanted attention in the North campus setting.

While the cardio, weight equipment and studios in Humber’s athletic facility get a good mixture of male and female students, the gym and weight room are predominantly male-dominated.

First year early childhood education student Virginia Downie said she feels uneasy while using the on-campus facilities.

“When I’m the only girl in the weight room I feel like all eyes are on me and I’ll admit it makes me nervous,” Downie said.

“A lot of girls are into the fitness classes rather than the weight room,” she said. “I think it’s because they feel more comfortable working out around other girls.”

Humber has tried to alleviate the issue by placing equipment in different spaces to attract different groups of people. However, females who frequently visit the gym still prefer to attend a fitness class rather than use the equipment.

Fitness Coordinator Leanne Henwood-Adam says she sees a pretty good mix of male and female students, depending on the time of day and the area of the facility.

“At night, especially on the weight room side, it becomes very intimidating for a lot of females,” Henwood-Adam said.

“I think the heavy weights tend to be the most intimidating for some females and so they tend to want to stay away from that, especially because you do get a lot of the guys who go in there and want to lift the heavy weights,” she said.

In previous years, a lack of requests for women’s- and LGBTQ -only hours meant that the idea was never brought to their attention.

Humber’s North campus Athletic Centre keeps numbers for occupancy. Should requests come forward, a survey would be the most effective way to determine a time slot for segregated times.

Manager of Recreation Anthony Seymour said there was a high demand for this service at Ryerson University in 2014.

“The Ryerson Student Union did a survey of the student body and found there was a significant interest in having women’s only hours,” Seymour said.

“They approached Athletics and made the request,” she said. “From there on we then worked with them to set up the days and times.”

Gender-based violence may also be the reason why women and LGBTQ students are hesitant towards using the athletic facilities. A Women’s Only Gym Time Report conducted by Ryerson’s Student Union focused on the verbal abuse women experience while using the facility.

“It makes it seem like we’re singling them out if we shut down the facility just for their exclusive use, whereas what we’d like to do is make it a safe and welcome environment for everybody to come and use,” Henwood-Adam said.

“We would certainly work with those groups if we had requests come forward asking for that. It’s certainly something that we could do a survey for and ask the population, ‘Is it something you would like?’ Because for me, that’s what I need right now,” she said.