It’s been a while since I’ve written about being harassed at the gym. This is probably because, once Tim and I moved in together, I joined a gym that was closer to our apartment. It is also much more expensive and associated with a local hospital, so they offer many more services besides just a weight room, some cardio options, and a group fitness room. I think you pay for what you get in terms of gym memberships, and, unfortunately for many women, in order to not be harassed at the gym, they need to pay more for a nicer facility.
Since I started working out there a few years ago, I haven’t been harassed once. No men come up to me and try to tell me how to work out. They don’t yell at me across the gym, either. I don’t get hit on. I don’t get gawked at. All in all, working out at this facility has been a very pleasant experience.
A little while ago, though, and older man – maybe in his 70′s – started talking to me when I was on the bike. Thinking he was just a friendly fellow, I responded a bit, and then during a lull in the conversation, I made a show of putting my headphones in. He left me alone for the rest of my workout.
We must have very similar workout schedules, though, because since then, he has found me on every single morning workout I’ve done and stood in front of me to give me a thumbs-up sign. Now, I’m not one to turn down encouragement, but I do not like to talk to people at the gym at 5:30 in the morning, nor do I like the idea of anyone standing over me as I’m working out, whether they are giving me a thumbs-up or not.
Besides that, how does this guy know that I haven’t had some traumatic experience in my past with a stalker or someone who has gotten a bit too close to me. Standing over me to say hello during my workout could really be triggering to someone who has had a past traumatic experience. Fortunately, I have not, but I’m still left with a creepy feeling. I mean, I don’t even know this guy. I know he’s probably just trying to be nice, but I’m one of those people who believes that if you don’t know me, don’t talk to me.
I’ve tried every nonverbal communication option in the book. If I don’t look at him, he stands there till I do, sometimes trying to talk over my headphones. If I don’t smile at him, he doesn’t seem phased. If I turn away, he just yells hello loud enough to be heard over my headphones.
I’m not sure if this is harassment or not. Probably not. I mean, I did see him doing the same thing to another male patron a ways away from me the other day. But still, can’t I just go to the gym in peace? Shouldn’t my having my headphones in, not responding, not smiling, and turning away be enough of a hint for this guy?
Maybe I should just start working out at home.
Photo credit: lululemon athletica.