Almost 3⁄4 of Women Have Been Made to Feel Uncomfortable in a Public Gym, survey suggests
A staggering 73% of women have been made to feel uncomfortable whilst exercising in a
public gym, according to a new survey by UK sports nutrition brand DNA Lean.
The most common experiences were staring (91%) and unsolicited or inappropriate
comments (46%). Other women reported having photos taken of them, and one respondent
said they had been followed by a car after leaving the premises.
Almost three quarters (73%) of the 400 women surveyed agree that there is a problem
around women’s safety in gyms, with the same percentage suggesting that women’s only
gyms are necessary.
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Women’s only gyms are becoming increasingly popular. The #womensonlygym hashtag on
TikTok has over 18.3 million views, and more women’s only gyms are opening across the
Nidha Khan owns BodyUpWomen, a women’s only gym in Leeds, and says she is “not
shocked at all” by DNA Lean’s statistics.
One of the things she sees women struggle with in the gym is form, which is only
exacerbated by an atmosphere that is “mostly male dominated and catered indirectly to the
She knows countless women that have quit the gym due to harassment and feeling
uncomfortable, which is why she created a “safe haven” at BodyUpWomen. However, she
says it “shouldn’t have to be like this” and that men in mainstream gyms need to be doing
more to make women feel comfortable.
Generally, most women who responded to DNA Lean’s survey had positive experiences of
women’s only gyms. One person said: “They make women feel more comfortable and safe
working out in a public gym. It also helps women who might feel self-conscious working out
in front of men to feel more at ease.”
Another option for gyms is having women’s only areas. However, some women who
responded to the survey had concerns about a lack of equipment in these spaces. “I've been
to a few, and they can be a great escape from uncomfortable situations mixed gyms have,
but I feel like the facilities aren't as good,” one woman said.
Others expressed concerns about whether these solutions really tackle the root of the
problem. One respondent said: “While I think they’re necessary to make some women feel
safer, the conversation should be more about things men can do to make women feel safer
rather than removing themselves entirely.”
Kate Meier is a certified weightlifting and CrossFit trainer, and has over a decade of
experience training adults and children alike. She recommends three key ways that
mixed-gender gyms can make women feel more safe and comfortable.
- Consider the layout of the gym
“How the equipment of a gym is laid out in relation to other equipment is something that can
be overlooked,” she says. “For instance, there are lower body machines that women tend to
use often. These machines should be positioned in a way that doesn’t expose the woman to
the rest of the gym.
“How close machines are to each other, how they are positioned in relation to the mirrors are
both things to consider. You don’t want a woman to feel like the whole gym is watching
- Give staff training
“Have staff members that are trained and ready to handle potential problem situations. Most
likely, any bigger gym is going to eventually encounter a member that is “creeping” out other
“If a woman feels like they are in an uncomfortable and potentially unsafe situation, then they
need to know that they can tell the staff and that the staff will act quickly and appropriately.”
- Offer women’s only programmes and classes
“Women who have little experience working out can feel intimidated being in a big gym by
themselves. Promoting programmes targeted at helping those women begin their fitness
journeys will go a long way to building up their confidence and hopefully allow them to feel
comfortable working out on their own.”
Jimmi Caan, CEO of Temple Gym Birmingham, adds: “As a gym owner myself, it’s concerning
that so many women feel unsafe and uncomfortable whilst exercising in public gyms.
“There are so many things gym owners and staff can do to make sure everyone has a
positive experience whilst exercising, no matter their gender. It all starts from the top. Are
you implementing a zero-tolerance policy to harassment, and creating clear procedures
where women can make harassment complaints?
“It’s time to listen to women and make real changes. Gyms shouldn’t feel like a ‘boys’ club’ -
exercise is for everyone.”
DNA Lean is a sports supplements brand. They are national leaders in the UK sports
nutrition market and have created one of the most popular fat burning supplements in the
Key Survey Findings:● 73% of women have been made to feel uncomfortable in a public gym
● 72% of women think there is a problem around women’s safety in gyms
● 65% of women think all gyms should offer women’s only hours
● 71% of women say women’s only hours would encourage them to spend more time in public gyms
● 73% of women think women’s only gyms are necessary
● 64% of women feel more safe exercising at home compared to a public gym