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Students at the University of Canterbury (UC) are divided over the implementation of a trial period of “women’s only” hours at the on-campus gym.
Monday to Saturday, 1–3pm, female students can work out in male-free classes and gym areas.
However many students found that blocking out the 1–3pm time slot was inconvenient, as lunch and mid-afternoon are the most popular times for all students at the gym.
While UCSA president James Addington thought the trial was “awesome,” many students have found the trial to be too exclusive and contradictory, pointing out that if there were “male-only” hours it would be seen as sexist.
Lily, a third year economics student at UC, told Salient the women on campus are “really excited” by the women’s only hours because it “provides a good opportunity for more women to feel comfortable and at ease” using the male dominated areas like weights.
She noted that the male students generally don’t seem to be bothered by women’s only hours, because there are still plenty of spaces for them to workout on campus. She also said it seemed to have increased the number of women using the gym.
When asked if the VUW Recreation Centre might consider such a trial, a university spokesperson said that to date, “feedback hasn’t suggested that people would like to see women-only times in the fitness centre.”
“We do have a weekly ChickFit class and on request we also provide access to groups requesting women-only facilities. In addition, we offer some other activities for women only; for example, self-defence for women.”
One frequent user of the VUW Recreation Centre noted the gym areas are definitely gender segregated in the same way as at UC, with women using cardio equipment and men using the weights. She also noted that of the classes she had been to (pilates and yoga) there are often more female students than men.
She didn’t think that having women only hours “would be the best idea,” because she believed it would inconvenience the male members of the gym. However, she did think it would be a good idea to have women only spaces for weight lifting because it can be “quite intimidating and nerve wracking,” to work out in this male dominated area.
The UC trial began on July 25 and will run until the end of the year.