9 Ways To Stop Mansplainers At The Gym, According To Women Who’ve Done It
The gym is a place where many women go to take a break from their busy schedules and recenter themselves. But, like in many other areas of being a woman in public, many women find that men might come along and spoil this experience by mansplaining to women at the gym — whether by lecturing us on how to use the exercise equipment, offering unsolicited advice, or telling us to fix our "form." In fact, it's so common, that many women who hit the gym use different hacks to keep from being mansplained or catcalled.
As NBC News reported this past June, a survey conducted by the fitness site ExerciseBike.net found that 18.2 percent of women reported being sexually harassed at the gym. The survey also revealed women actually changed parts of their exercise routine to avoid harassment, with a whopping 79 percent reporting they'd "consider an all-women’s gym to prevent sexual harassment."
Sigh. Going to work out shouldn't be a potential source of stress for women, but alas, men are still offering unsolicited advice on the reg to women at the office, gym, and at home. Though the responsibility isn't on us to change our behavior to avoid being bothered in public places (men, it's on you to do better!), many women have come up with some pretty clever ways to avoid being bothered during a sweat sesh. These are nine hacks 10 women use to avoid being mansplained at the gym.
1Sport Your Headphones, And Don't Be Afraid To Report Mansplainers Who Won't Stop
"I keep my headphones in at all times. If someone talks to me, I literally ignore them. If they continue, I say, 'I'm just trying to finish my workout. I don't want to talk,'" Lisa Basile, the author of Light Magic for Dark Times, tells Bustle. "If they continue, I tell them I'm going to report them. Period."
2Wear Your Fave Feminist Tees
Emmylou, a law student, tells Bustle she wears "sassy t-shirts that tell men to think twice before they open their mouth" when she hits the gym, and that it helps mansplainers get the message.
Carla, an office manager, adds that, "I my wear t-shirts that say ‘Somos Fuertes,’ 'Calmate Becky,’ or ‘Support The Dreams of Young Girls of Color.’ [...] Men leave me alone due to content — they know they can’t f*ck with a womanist!"
3Practice Your Resting Bitch Face
Maria, a community organizer, explains that when it comes to avoiding mansplainers at the gym, her "A-game RBF [resting bitch face] has always worked." Moreover, she says, "In my experience, if I'm focused on the workout, look like I know what I'm doing, and just ignore my surroundings, they stay away."
4Go To A Gym Where Men Aren't Allowed
5Or Try A Gym That's Women-Owned And Operated
If you can afford to switch up your gym membership, consider opting for a gym that's run by women. "I go to the gym five to six days a week, and I've only been interrupted or mansplained twice in the last five years," says Kari, a Systems Administrator. "I've been going to the same gym for a long time — I genuinely think the lack of mansplaining has something to do with the culture of the gym. It's woman-owned and operated."
She adds that, "I think one of the most effective things you can do is report instances like this to gym management and hold them accountable for creating a safe environment."
6Get In The Zone
Being focused and determined seems to deter some mansplainers. "I made zero eye contact with anyone in the working out area while I’m working out. Headphones in, staring at a TV, the screen of the treadmill — I focus on anything that’s not a real human being," explains Kim, a stay-at-home mom. "The only time I may smile at anyone is when passing by the front desk."
7Go With A Friend
One of the best ways to avoid mansplaining? Find a regular workout buddy. "Bring back up to the gym. I get hassled less if I’m not alone," says Maria, an advocate.
Hitting the gym at sunrise, or a little before, may be a helpful way to avoid unsolicited advice according to Ellie, a pediatrician. "I go really early in the morning, and never have problems. Everyone there is on a mission at 5 A.M., or not awake," she says.
9Try This Hilarious AF Trick
Teri, a copywriter and editor, has a clever trick she uses to stop mansplainers in their tracks: She says to, "Keep asking 'what?' [as they mansplain]. Say it loud enough so that other people look to see what's going on. Having to repeat themselves in front of a small audience shuts them down pretty quick."
Obviously, it'd be better if mansplaining, at the gym, office, supermarket, or wherever, just wasn't a thing. But until then, these tried and true hacks can help you get through your workout unbothered, and uninterrupted.