Saturday, August 1, 2009

No need for approval...gym etiquette and safety

As a gender non-conforming/genderqueer identified person I often find it difficult to feel comfortable in gyms and other fitness spaces. These spaces are often so hyper-gendered and unwelcoming to folks like us. Aside from the usual confusion about why I'm going into the women's restroom or not knowing what pronouns to use for me other interaction arise that make me feel uncomfortable. When I'm read as a female-bodied person I often get congratulated by "dudes" who are impressed at my strength like "I give you big props for being so strong!" (yelling at my side) during the middle of my set while I'm trying to concentrate on my form and making sure I dont' hurt myself. First its bad gym etiquette to interrupt or distract anyone while they are in the middle for lifting weights or performing an exercise - no matter who it is period. If you need to ask something, wait till the person is done and has put down the weights or has finished their set completely. Otherwise, you are invading that person's space and potentially putting them at risk for injury. Its not ok to do this just because you feel entitled to give your sign of approval of how impressed you are at that particular moment. I think its also disrespectful to the person and is implying that person doesn't deserve the space to have serious workout. What are we supposed to do stop in the middle of our set and nod or smile for your acknowledgement??? What does it say about male entitlement and privilege created and tolerated in these spaces that have been traditionally un-welcoming towards genderqueer folks but also elders, female-bodied and differently-abled people. Yeah, women, genderqueers and differently-abled folks are strong and we don't need your approval.

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