herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Mary Feely: Guys, get your macho, musclebound mitts off my gym

LISTEN, sonny, you can stop flexing your tattoos in my face. I'm not relinquishing the chest press until I'm damn good and ready.

Guys, admit it. You're lousy at sharing gyms with women. You join a gym that's open to men AND women, but your vibe is "me Tarzan, you in the way".

Sweat

Don't pretend you don't know what I'm on about. I'm talking hogging the fitness machines. I'm talking pouring buckets of sweat. I'm talking posturing in front of the full-length mirrors.

How did you grow up without learning to share? Oh, I know. You missed playschool the day they taught that sharing is caring.

Picture this: a group of mams and grans in a Pilates class. Yes, Pilates, the mildest keep-fit activity since rotating your arms and singing "Roly-poly up, up, up".

In its wisdom, the gym was holding the Pilates class in the weight room. For one short hour a week, the room was closed to weightlifters.

Instead, it was the domain of women trying to tighten torsos that had been mangled by pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. The tattoo and muscle brigade were perfect gentlemen about it.

Only joking. That one hour off-limits was intolerable.

They invaded, the savages. They stalked into the room, headed for the weights and started clanking and grunting as if we weren't there. It took a security guard to get rid of them, and even to him they were gobby.

Can you imagine a group of middle-aged women disrupting a men's weightlifting class? Neither can I.

Such machismo is not a one-off.

In the pool, the guys like to hog the fast lane. Not for swimming fast, you understand. No, they crowd down the shallow end, chatting and comparing chest hair. Meanwhile, the slow lane is clogged with women who are actually swimming.

Whining

On one particularly crowded night, a suffragette -- OK, it was me -- had had enough. I slipped under the rope into the fast lane. You know, the boys' lane. The one where no one was swimming.

What did the Mister Men do? Why, they went whining to the lifeguard.

She's not swimming fast enough, they whinged. Get her out of our lane!

My argument was: yes, I was swimming slowly, but surely this was faster than not swimming at all?

Use it or lose it, lads.

Then there's the ongoing drama of bodybuilders insisting on using circuit-training machines to bulk up, despite the notice on every single machine asking them to do no such thing.

Now, how to explain this testosterone testiness? This isn't ancient Greece, where well-oiled men and boys worked out in the nip, confident that all the women were banished.

We're living in the 21st century, in a country that's had two female presidents.

Yet still the lads act as if gyms are purely masculine zones of influence, rather like urinals or barbecues.

Fellas, if you can't keep your smouldering manliness in check, maybe you'd be happier taking up sumo wrestling.

Because we're not scuttling back to the kitchen just to suit you.

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