I couldn't easily find data on numbers of women-only gyms across the years, but the two sources that mentioned their history both say the same thing (first and second source):
As recently as the early 1990's, health clubs were typically co-ed gyms that promoted muscle-building exercising on stacked-weight equipment to an under-50's clientele. Today's fitness centers are likely to cater a special demographic (teens, women-only, families, seniors) . . .
Women's Only Facilities are a trend that is on the rise. Since the early 1990s women's only health clubs such as Lady of America, Ladies Express Workout and Curves for Women have gained popularity because owners target the club's environment and workouts to their female clientele.
They were already well under way by 2000, when this article on CNN reviewed the legal battles surrounding their rise.
The only pre-'90s example I could find was a chain called Spa Lady. From this recollection, though, it sounds like more of an aerobic dancing place:
After I turned 17, I began working out at a women's fitness club called "Spa Lady." Spa Lady was "the" place for women to be back in the mid and late 80s! It had some fitness equipment, but we ladies mostly loved going to dance our aerobic steps in hot pink leotards and tights!
People who desire more social contact need to have a higher threshold for what they consider "creepy," or else they'll find too many people off-putting and won't get the chance to make new connections. Back in the good old days, exercising around a bunch of sweaty, horny guys wasn't creepy. Now that their threshold has fallen through the floor, nothing could be more frightening for women than working out next to dudes.
It's odd that the women-only gyms try to sell customers on the idea that sheltering will boost their confidence. It certainly makes them more comfortable and less self-conscious, but greater confidence only comes after conquering fears, achieving what you thought your self-consciousness would prevent you from doing, and so on. "I didn't know I had it in me!"
In a way it's like guys who say they're more confident after hiding away in their man-cave, where they can have video game marathons and watch cartoons without shame, when shame is exactly what they should feel.
There's a time and a place for not feeling judged, but people have come to value that over everything else. Part of social life is other people in your network passing judgment on you, not necessarily in a "We need to talk" way of course. This whole need to never feel judged underlies the women's gym stuff, but also serves as a broader way to isolate yourself from others. "I'll only let you into my circle if you promise never to judge me." Uh, sorry, that's not what normal people do; they judge the people they care about. "Well sucks to them, then! I don't need anybody anyway!"
That mindset also ensures that their so-called friends won't really care about them. Either they'll only be shallow acquaintances who never look out for and support each other, or the "I'll never judge you" person is just trying to use the other one (usually unsuccessfully, as when dorks try to play the white knight for a female acquaintance).
Girls were much more well-adjusted back when they wanted to be judged by the boys. They were a lot more on-display and inviting, even approaching boys themselves. They were just eager to figure out what boys thought of them. I guess the truly repulsive ones felt rotten when their worst fears were confirmed, but everyone else would've felt a boost of confidence after learning that it wasn't so intimidating after all.
Putting yourself out there in front of the boys shouldn't be confused with trying to be one of the guys, of course. That's the other awful trend in women's fitness centers -- trying to turn them into butt-kicking babes. Whether through mousiness or mannishness, the gym-going gal of recent times has achieved her goal of keeping the boys away.
It might be time for men-only gyms:ReplyDelete
Establishments like Curves and Ladies Workout Express are "gyms" only in the most technical sense of the term. They offer highly structured and timed exercise circuits, patrons can't just go and use the facilities as they choose, and they're also aimed at middle aged women. As far as I know the only full-service gym chain for women only is Lucille Roberts, which has been around for many years. All of the other big chains are open to both men and women: LA Fitness, Bally's, Planet Fitness, World Gym, and so on.ReplyDelete
Now, one thing I've noticed in almost a decade of regular gym patronage is that the genders do tend to self-segregate within the gym. Almost all the people who attend the various group fitness classes are women, yoga being the only partial exception, while the bench press area and the squat racks are male preserves. Other, less extreme types of gender segregation exist: women concentrate on the cardio machines and the circuit training area, men on the free weights and cable stations. I have no reason to believe this gym is at all atypical.
Lastly, to the extent that gym patrons judge one another (being the "judgment free zone" is Planet Fitness's whole schtick), it's probably women judging other women.
I wonder if this would explain some of the effects of segregation of the sexes at grade level. There were fewer girls running around with boys or moving in with BFs or considering marriage in my girls-only school than in my brothers' co-ed school. The former also tended to be more job or career oriented.ReplyDelete
As recently as the early 1990's, health clubs were typically co-ed gymsReplyDelete
If you go back a generation or two, before there were many private gyms, most men who exercised went to the YMCA, which was all men at the time.
Interesting, but I disagree that this is the result of cocooning. I think that women are naturally, biologically repulsed by the majority of men - "betas" and "omegas". So given the choice, women will always want to stay as isolated from most men as they can.ReplyDelete
So basically, prior to the 90s, all those women really didn't want to be working out next to men - they just had no choice, because the male hierarchy hadn't collapsed yet.
"People who desire more social contact need to have a higher threshold for what they consider "creepy," or else they'll find too many people off-putting and won't get the chance to make new connections."ReplyDelete
But women only desire connections with less than 5% of men - as Game has taught us. Women have always been creeped out by non-alphas - its just that in the past, they had to repress, since they didn't hvae their own jobs or money.
"But women only desire connections with less than 5% of men - as Game has taught us."ReplyDelete
Too much theory, too little contact with reality. Either that or you mean something very different by "desire connections," like willing to give up everything just to have the guy's kids.
"Women have always been creeped out by non-alphas - its just that in the past, they had to repress, since they didn't hvae their own jobs or money."
Neat theory but wrong reality. Women in the '80s were go-getters, just like in the Roaring Twenties. Even in high school they had paying jobs, a car, etc.
Again, don't start from theory -- it always leads you away from wisdom, except in mathematics. Start by observing, noticing patterns, and drawing connections.
One big hint that the people described by Game are a historical curiosity is that there was no Game movement or community or literature back in the good old days.
It only arose during the '90s, 2000s, and this decade, in response to the changing make-up of the young female population -- namely how socially avoidant, mistrusting, and prudish they've become. Back when girls were approaching, flirty, and care-free, guys did not need a Napoleonic strategy just to get a phone number.
"It only arose during the '90s, 2000s, and this decade, in response to the changing make-up of the young female population -- namely how socially avoidant, mistrusting, and prudish they've become."ReplyDelete
Look at this interactive graph about the ratios of singles (2008):
I felt Peter Frost made a convincing argument about the rise of the game movement having to do much with male surplus (I agreed more with Malloy about the tangential arguments about "bare branches" and a few other things).
"The sexual marketplace does not function like the marketplace of goods and services. Increasing the demand for young single women will not increase the supply. Nor will this market failure go away if “losers” attend special seminars or get special coaching."
There are other posts arguing about ramifications, of which I remain agnostic.
I believe this has already changed. With all the competitive women today. This story may have occur but I think it is not applicable to all women.ReplyDelete