Reclaiming the Second Floor: Why Gender Norms Should Not Determine your Workout Equipment

by Andrea Traietti on March 5, 2020


The upper level of the Concannon Fitness Center houses a number of different arm and leg machines, the use of which can be beneficial for both men and women. Nicholas Crenshaw ’20/The Cowl.

by Marie Sweeney ’20

Opinion Staff

For many of the female students at Providence College, the upper level of the Concannon Fitness Center is an unknown territory. This is due to the fact that it is predominantly occupied by male students, who use the space for its weight-lifting equipment.

However, one’s gym routine is a personal preference that should not be affected by gender norms regarding weight lifting. Girls should not feel uncomfortable in an environment on campus that is supposed to be shared by all.

The second floor of the Concannon Fitness Center is predominantly a weight lifting section with several other machines and treadmills.

Due to the weight lifting machinery on this floor, it is mainly used by male students. However, there are many machines that are friendly to all levels of ability that many female students are missing out on.

Some may argue that the reason there are more men than women on the second floor is because women do not lift as many weights. However, many women have voiced that the reason is due to the fact they do not want to be one of the only females in a room full of males, and do not want to be judged while working out.

Frequent gym-goer Sarah Kerrigan ‘20 said, “Ever since freshman year, I’ve been told upstairs of the gym is ‘only for guys’ because it’s where the heavier weights are. There’s such a stereotype around girls focusing on cardio while guys focus on strength, but everyone needs both strength and cardio in their workout routines.”

Many women have entered into the realm of lifting weights, and the second floor of the gym would be of use to them. It is time that society removes the stigma of women being “weaker” than men and that women should be small rather than strong. Furthermore, there is the stereotype that women who lift heavy weights are bulky and manly which further discourages and limits women from choosing the workout that is best fit for them.

Even though these stereotypes exist, many female students avoid the second floor even though there are several cardio machines, such as treadmills, available. This is due to the unfortunate fact that many women fear being judged at the gym by male students.

Exercise is a very personal activity that can cause a lot of insecurity for many individuals. While women have every right to develop the confidence to feel comfortable at the gym, it is important that men treat women with respect to ensure that everyone feels comfortable during the personal activity of working out.

Student worker at Concannon Fitness Center Laura Fusco ’20 added, “I’ve been working at the gym for three years and have always noticed that men predominately workout upstairs while women usually exercise on the first floor. As a woman, it can be very intimidating to try new workouts surrounded by only men.”

It is time that heavy and intense exercise should be considered an activity for both men and women rather than being solely for just men. Women should not feel uncomfortable in certain locations of the gym due to the equipment or the gender ratio in the room, and both students and administration at PC should take efforts to combat this imbalance.

PC students are lucky to have such an updated, accessible, and excellent gym facility. Society’s gender norms should not ruin that.