Friday Roundup: Are You Vulnerable or Invincible?

These weekly roundups have been more like “sound-offs,” so maybe that’s a more appropriate title. All the same, this week I’m talking about another issue that you’re likely to have a strong opinion about.

You work hard in the gym and you’re looking hot. Plus you go heavy with fantastic form and people notice (nice job). Do you keep your head down or enjoy the attention?

Got swagga?

Disrespect vs. Validation

This week I asked my Facebook readers what they thought about a guest post via FitJerk, who specializes in getting to the point in the most offensive (and hilarious) way possible. The responses were passionate.

The post, written by he and his friend Meara, postulates that chicks who lift should not be offended when they garner attention – be it your unwitting camel toe or your killer deadlift form. In fact, we should appreciate any and all attention and quit whining, they maintain.

Most of us are training to “gain admiration, acceptance, compliments or get people to notice your body either consciously or unconsciously,” says Meara, so why do we “end up transforming into little whiners” when we get attention?

“The difference between you and me is that I live for those moments,” says Meara. “I don’t care if the compliments coming from the hottest guy in school, or some ones grandfather, you can bet that I held my head higher after that compliment.”

Most of the Facebook respondents were adamant that this was a crock of shit. One reader named Amy said,

“Both women and men have the right not to be harassed. You can check someone out, but you can be discrete about it. The reason why most women don’t take being cat called and getting comments on their looks is because it makes us feel objectified, and that our worth is in our body.”

Earned Confidence

I don’t know about you, but I remember a lot of unwanted attention as a preteen. It made me feel skin-crawlingly uncomfortable to get cat calls from construction workers or up-and-down looks from anyone. It felt unsafe, vulnerable, and shameful. I was suddenly becoming an object of sexual desire for men, and clearly it meant I was trashy.

Fast-forward many years and I can’t even remember the last time I received “negative” attention. Yes, I get attention all the time. But I don’t notice it as negative or positive. Whether someone’s checking out my smokin’ physique or curiously watching what I’m doing in the gym, I’m a badass and it doesn’t bother me one bit. In fact, I like it.

I got swagga, you know? I strut my stuff to the max because I’m doing something remarkable: Crazy-consistent heavy lifting and a bangin’ body I’m fiercely proud of.

I OWN IT.

So of course I’m going to get attention. Since I’m also a badass, I’ve got self-confidence that could whip a cake. I doubt anyone would ever dare say anything rude to me because I would kick their motherluvin’ ass. And I’m not kidding.

Sexy and I Own It

Does that sound like you too? If not, I challenge you to change your mental image of yourself. We’re all working to better ourselves or we wouldn’t be at the gym. No one is “done.” You can own it no matter what stage of the game you’re at.

One of my online training clients who definitely owns it said this after reading the FitJerk article:

“Got my first ‘you’re in great shape’ man compliment at the gym. *fistpump* Funny cause I read that article yesterday about men commenting on women at the gym but I’m like bring it on!! Men have no filter – and unless you know a person, aren’t they an object anyway?”

Back on Facebook, Janine said:

“I forever catch guys watching me when I’m doing deads/squats…am I offended? NO. For me, they are more curious as to what/why/how… not the usual remit for a female in the gym! I’ve had one lewd comment in over 12 years… he got a raised eyebrow and a smirk. Guess who felt the most intimidated??”

You can read more comments from readers here and feel free to chime in below. I genuinely appreciate hearing others’ opinions on this because I hadn’t thought about those experiences in a long time.

Whichever way you feel on the issue, it’s important to valued and respected. I get the baggage around being objectified and treated like “meat.” If people talk to you with disrespect I’d freaking tell management or get out of that gym.

But also think about whether a bit of swagga might help in these situations – being proud of your body and knowing you can handle anything.

Do you get unwanted attention? How do you handle it?

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Comments

  1. You’re in a gym full of sweaty people doing the exact same thing you’re doing. You’re not in a bubble.

    There’s a line between checking someone out discreetly and full on lingering with mouth hanging open.

    If someone’s full on harassing you, by all means… tell someone about it and get out of there. But if someone’s looking in your direction and/or giving you a compliment? Learn to be an adult and accept it instead of cowering away as if they just approached you with no pants.

    As you said… it’s important to be valued and respected. Are compliments no longer a sign of respect? Or am I just doing this wrong?

    • Haha… well said Ron. I think some women are pretty sensitive about attention. I respect that, yet would like to see less upset about the issue. Plus everyone just needs to own their badassery.

  2. I was so used to fading into the background and not getting any attention when I was 250 pounds. After I lost the weight and got fit, I changed. I became more confident and wore nice clothes that showed off my efforts!! I was proud of everything I’d accomplished. However, getting attention and compliments from people still make me uncomfortable. I’m working on accepting it gracefully instead of feeling uncomfortable or talking down about myself!
    Lisa recently posted..Stronger Than I Think I AmMy Profile

  3. I go to a gym where half the clients are gay and maybe 3 quarters married and straight. I didn’t choose the gym for that reason specifically but it has turned out very well. Occasionally a lesbian will ask me out but always they are very straight forward and respectful. I let them know I am straight and it is no big deal. I have never notices any one checking me out of either sex at this gym. If everybody would act like that I would feel comfortable in any gym. It just isn’t the case elsewhere!
    Cindy recently posted..AnxietyMy Profile

    • You are right, and I think we’re lucky to belong to gyms where we feel comfortable. On the flip side, I would never go to a gym that had assholes. I get it though, that some people are limited in their choices. In that case, it’s better to make friends (or peace) with the other members the best we can than avoid it or feel victimized.

  4. Hi Suzanne, really like your blog. Do you mind if I link to you on my website as I feel that a lot of my clients would be really interested in what you say.

    Keep up the great work!

    Paul

  5. I do love Fitjerk! He has been a good person to me! I will say though that attention bordering on harassment or staring or googling type of thing – not warranted. We have the right to go to the gym, wear what we want & are comfortable in & train hard without being bothered or having attention that is more a sexist thing than – hey, you are in great shape & really work out hard thing.

    I have people look but at my age & the way I look in the gym (no makeup & almost 56 year old face), I know it is not sexist! I know they are just curious as to what I am doing to stay in shape at my age. When I was younger, I really did not get this – I was not the cute person in the gym & also built larger muscles so it was not the younger guys thing although some older dudes when I was young would do the hit thing. 😉

    I just think there is a line – some women may do it for the attention but I think the serious ones are not there for that but appreciate people seeing they are strong…

    Interesting & good topic Suzanne!
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted..Making Your Own Healthy Cereal; Ban on Trans Fats; Happy BdayMy Profile

    • It’s always fairly obvious who’s there to get attention and who’s there to work out. I like to think if you are serious like we are and do get attention, it feels ok and comfortable. And if it doesn’t, take action and make it stop. Thanks as always for stopping by Jody!

  6. I don’t lift heavy enough or have big enough muscles to get stares/comments at the gym, but I sure got a lot of funny looks as I continued lifting while I was pregnant! I’m pretty sure all the men were terrified I was going to go into labor. It was like the opposite of what you’re describing — they were all scared to look my way!
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted..Menu plan, November 10-16My Profile

    • LOL! Kudos for making that happen while you were pregnant Sarah! Attention can happen whether you’re “muscular” or not, but you might’ve been right ;D

  7. Suzanne – I LOVE this! I always tell clients no matter what they “say” they really do love the attention even if they don’t want to admit it. I think we all want to feel admired and respected. If we don’t want to stand out or have people notice us then unfortunately the best option is to workout at home. I needed this as my own confidence has been an issue! Thanks lady!
    Taylor Ryan @ Liftingrevolution recently posted..8 Steps For Creating A Fit, Fun & Fab Fitness Plan From ScratchMy Profile

    • I know you get this Taylor! Feeling comfortable in our own skin means accepting attention as “neutral.” It’s an upper to get positive attention, but that doesn’t define us any more than negative attention. Bottom line, we know we rock hard and that’s what drives us :).

  8. Hi Suzanne like your blog! Keep up the good work!! Joe

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