BY: CALI SKARET, LAKE VOICE STAFF UMD students, mostly females, have said that they don’t feel comfortable going into the weight room downstairs at the recreation center.
This really isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s not that the boys stare at them in certain ways, but because there are mostly guys down there and it gets to be a lot of testosterone.
“I’d say the ratio is never ever more than ten guys to one girl,” Hatim Qadri said, an employee at the UMD rec center. “But mostly it’s just women who have felt comfortable and understand what workout they’re doing.”
This guy-to-girl ratio in the gym can be very intimidating to female gym-goers and it seems to be a vicious cycle.
Built in 2006, the UMD rec center is one of the largest and most inclusive athletic and recreational sports center in the Northland. While that’s definitely something to be proud of, does that really mean anything if some of the students at UMD don’t feel comfortable utilizing everything that it offers?
One of the reasons this could be the case is the fact that this gym is a part of a college campus. Students feel uncomfortable working out in front of their peers.
“I think it happens more on college campuses because the other gyms that I’ve been to it seems that women are more free and open to using the dumbbells regardless if there are a lot of guys there,” Qadri said.
There is a cardio space upstairs that gets used by both males and females, but the females certainly seem to use it for longer periods of time. Some female students feel uncomfortable going downstairs because they feel like they’re being judged; whether it’s because they don’t know how to use all the machines or because of the amount of weight they can (or can’t) lift.
Makenzie Garibay is a senior this year at UMD and goes to the gym about 5 days a week. Her workout usually consists of running on the track and using the yoga room downstairs. But she said she definitely does not go in the weight room.
“It’s awkward, I don’t know,” Garibay said. “There’s a lot of guys, I have no idea what I’m doing and so I just really don’t go in there. I just feel like I’m being judged cause I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
Other people don’t notice this at gyms they use back at home, either. Some students even go as far as finding another gym to workout at in the Duluth area. This means they pay a membership fee for something that they could be getting through the university. Because of this, it appears the issue is with the university recreation center as whole and not just the weight room.
“I got a membership to another gym in Duluth because the school gym is too uncomfortable and I feel like I'm being judged,” Amanda Wolter, a student at UMD said. “I’m just too self conscious at the school gym.”
Although Wolter avoids the school gym entirely, she's not the only one that feels the most comfortable avoiding the gym. Garibay also avoids the school gym, but only at certain times. She said mornings are the best time to do this because not many people are there.
"I workout in the early morning," Garibay said. "I come like two hours before my classes because it's not busy and I feel more comfortable that way."
As of now, the UMD weight room might be a hopeless cause for many women. The stigma around the weight room and the guys that work out in it might be stronger than the women's need to go down there. What are people willing to do to change this?