I am quite picky about which research pieces I read or recommend but Jonathan Goodman is one I have liked for some time so when I saw this a while back I thought I should post it here – “Why its harder for women personal Trainers”
Trying to leave aside my bias (I am female and a personal trainer!) I am curious about the idea of sexism in the role cos I sort of assumed that being a female in a largely male environment but with a large number of female clients, it would be to be advantage. I still maintain that there are large numbers of women who would prefer to train with a woman, someone who understands what she is going through and how she feels and someone who she can discuss her issues with, without feeling self conscious or embarrassed - I trained with my male trainer for over a year and there were many things I don’t tell him but I know I would have shared with a woman, it’s just what we do!
Reading the article I find the idea that a man understands what a woman is going through (hello, seriously?) with weight loss etc but a woman cannot understand the concept of ‘bulking up’ to be sexist in the extreme – yes there are good guys out there – some of them are even trainers!- who are empathetic and learn from every client and never presume. But, we all know these are a pretty rare phenomenon in any walk of life and if you add in the perceived macho culture of the gym and they are an endangered species! Why is it a male trainer can presume to understand a woman’s point of view but a woman cannot understand a man? That bit just baffled me!
Women have a hard enough time of it in the gym as it is and unfortunately, quite often its our own fault. we judge other women, pass comments, take bitchy glances and don’t hesitate to tell our girlfriends all about it. We stick to the cardio area never venturing out from the safety of the treadmill or cross trainer too scared to cross the gym floor and pick up a weight.
Why? What is so daunting about lifting a few dumbbells? Part of it I think is that men have claimed that area as their own and in any large shiny corporate gym the area is monopolised by men posing and outdoing each other trying to lift heavy, often with appalling form. I was at a new expensive London gym at the weekend and the weight area was full of pumped up guys whilst the cardio suite was full of tiny gym bunnies, looking pink and fluffy. How can we ever feel at home lifting weights when we continually perpetuate the myths that that is how girls look and whilst we still cling onto the belief that lifting weights will get you big – don’t we know enough to make sure our friends know what utter nonsense that is by now?
Women will always have a harder time as personal trainers until they respect themselves and offer a professional service that doesn’t involve flirting, showing off their boobs or basically using sex as a way to get more clients – and that is no different to every other industry. For years I worked in construction and was used to being on sites full of guys who werent used to having women around, let alone having a woman boss – I was good at my job, professional but I still wore a skirt and heels. I wasnt just given respect I had to earn it and that is no different with fitness
If women want to be treated the same as men they have to stop playing at being trainers and stop with the ‘im doing this until I get a better job/career/finish college’ after all if I was a trainer male or female and was working full-time alongside someone like that I was be more than a little unhappy – why should I lose out on clients cos he/she wants to work for a few months?
However, there are so many gyms etc owned operated or managed by men who DO only see men as personal trainers and who fail to capitalise on the benefits of employing a female trainer – walk into any gym run by men or where there are only male PTs and you will see a list of things that could be changed but that completely escape most mens attention from the soap in the bathrooms to the smells, the music, the magazines, the macho attitude that pervades the whole environment.
Until women start coming out from the shadows and owning or operating their own gyms and,more importantly start shouting about proper fitness including lifting weights they will always be in the background and I for one, never liked it there!