A man who was caught on camera encroaching on a woman’s space in the gym has sparked anger online, with women stating it shows an all too common problem females face while working out – and experts agree.
Charlie, a British fitness instructor who posts workouts and helpful gym tips online, was filming a weightlifting tutorial when an man came up behind her and dropped a heavy dumbbell right behind her.
The unnamed man quickly moved away, leaving the heavy piece of gym equipment in Charlie’s workout space, making it impossible for her to continue.
After trying to gain his attention, she eventually decides to move the dumbbell and continue on, prompting him to return and stare at her while she exercises.
Charlie, a British fitness instructor, was in a gym when a man came up behind her and dropped a dumbbell. Picture: TikTok/fitwithchaz
“The gym is absolutely everyone’s space, I never mind people walking in and out of videos,” she captioned the clip.
“I had been using the bar in this rack and he had seen me training there so he absolutely knew what he was doing.
“Take this as your reminder to be kind to others and take up the space you deserve.”
Her video, posted under the handle @fitwithchaz, quickly garnered huge attention, clocking up almost 5 million views to date.
But while women resonated with Charlie’s message, stating behaviours like the one this man exhibited contribute to why so many feel “unsafe” to workout, many men failed to see the problem.
The huge divide between men and women in the comments section didn’t surprise Melbourne psychologist Carly Dober, who explained gyms “are traditionally very masculine spaces”.
“Many men, especially in male dominated spaces, do not truly understand how intimidating it can be for some women,” she told news.com.au.
“If we are giving him the benefit of the doubt – he may have been trying to connect with her and meant nothing untoward by it, but how this is received from her perspective, and someone else’s on the internet, is a completely different story.”
Data supports this. Almost 56 per cent of women have faced harassment during their workouts, a survey from Run Repeat found in 2022.
In a separate study, a staggering 69 per cent of women admitted they do not feel safe or adjust their behaviour when receiving unwanted attention from men while exercising.
However, 92 per cent of harassment cases in the gym go unreported.
Melbourne psychologist Carly Dober said many men, especially in male dominated spaces, do not understand how intimidating it can be for some women. Picture: Supplied
These alarming stats appear to be supported in the comments section of Charlie’s video, where women shared their own stories of harassment and intimidation.
“I had a guy take my weights, look me in the eye when I said I’m using them, and he still took them,” one woman wrote.
“I was doing hip thrust on a bench once, and a guy sat down to do arm curls, I was like ‘OK we sharing I guess’, lol,” someone else said.
While one woman revealed: “This is why I don’t go to the gym.”
Others praised Charlie for “standing her ground”, adding it was “courageous” considering the male-dominated environment she was in.
“He was so mad you didn’t start an argument, you just went about your day,” one noted.
“Ugh, this makes me so mad. The blatant disrespect he had for you, so glad you pushed his equipment aside,” another woman pointed out.
“Good on ya for taking your space back,” someone else praised.
As one agreed: “He purposely did that, either he wanted that space and was trying to make you move, or wanted you to feel uncomfortable enough to rush. I hate those gym bros.”
Other women shared their own experiences of intimidation in the gym. Picture: Instagram/fitwithchaz
The majority of men in the comments section however, had a completely different take, proving Ms Dober’s points regarding a lack of perspective.
“You don’t own the gym, people can work out where they want,” one argued.
“You are making a scene, talking and making videos in a public gym. He’s the hero we all needed,” another reasoned.
Some even resorted to insults, suggesting Charlie was “not in shape enough to be making exercise videos” and made “rude” remarks about her appearance.
Women, and some supportive men, were quick to call out the “horrible” reaction, stating there was “SO much misogyny” in the male reaction.
“The contempt many are showing for her as a woman is just pure ingrained misogyny. Feminists don’t have a problem with men. Patriarchy and misogyny are bad for women AND men,” one said.
“Interesting how the guys are mostly the ones getting upset over this,” another remarked.
“The amount of comments sh*tting on the girl is insane. The dude’s clearly in the wrong. This reeks of misogyny,” someone else chipped in.
But the majority of men said Charlie was in the wrong and hurled insults at her. Picture: TikTok/fitwithchaz
A staggering 69 per cent of women admitted they do not feel safe when at the gym. Picture: TikTok/fitwithchaz
Ms Dober, who works at Melbourne’s Enriching Lives Psychology clinic, said gyms and fitness centres are known for “perpetuating very hyper-masculine behaviours” that can leave women feeling unsafe.
“This can include things such as excluding women, not taking the expertise of women seriously who are there to work on their own health and fitness, and ‘mansplaining’ exercises and techniques to female gymgoers,” she explained.
“Being in the weightlifting community myself, I do know that many gym attendees can feel frustrated and annoyed when other people in the space might film themselves either as influences or as part of their role.
“If this is what was going on for the male, I would recommend that instead of making the female feel unwanted and very uncomfortable, instead approach the owner of the gym.
“He could also simply have stayed out of her way, let her do what she is there to do, and focus on his own work out.”