Women Power-Lifting and Men Sipping Smoothies? Role Reversal at the Gym – Video

What would it look like if men and women reversed roles at the gym?

Yahoo! brings us another awesome video in their Flip Side series. Watch to see men trying to embrace their “sessuality” in pole dancing classes, women talking about how yoga is totally the best place to pick up dudes, and a woman yell at another women not to “be a little dick” when lifting weights.

They even thoughtfully included that weird person that decides to insert themselves into your workout routine all while getting a little bit handsy.

I could not stop laughing during this video, and yet it presents a lot of truth about gym culture stereotypes.

It’s a little bit weird how true it is.

About Deanna Ogle

Deanna Ogle hails from the greater Detroit area and her work has appeared in The Good Men Project, The Printed Blog, and Provoketive Magazine. She is studying journalism and religious studies, and writes at her personal blog Soul like a Spider. Loves: carnations, iced espresso, and watching movies with her husband. Find her at Twitter, Google and Facebook.


  1. Look, when I go to the gym, it’s for one reason, to work out! I really prefer it if the women stay by the treadmills and tighmaster type machines and just leave me the machines and free weights I need to do what I need to do. After all, at my age I might be the only guy working out there NOT intrested in how I look “For the Ladies’!

  2. wellokaythen says:

    I’d never think of a gym as a place to meet women, even when I was single. I get way too sweaty way too easily, big sweat stains under my man-boobs, down my front and back, down into my shorts. For some reason, stairmaster things leave me with big sweat marks in my crotch. I know this is just not a good look for me…..

    • The gym look isn’t really a good look for anyone, IMHO. I am baffled by women who wear makeup to the gym.

      I’m actually surprised this wasn’t covered in the video.

      • Joanna Schroeder says:

        Yes the make-up to the gym thing… though sometimes coming from work or an event? Then you happen to be wearing it.

        • And on the male side, there’s the guys who will wear cologne to the gym.


          I really don’t have time to gag from the overpowering scent of aqua velva, I have got to lift things and put them down.

          • I know right?

            Honestly I’d rather smell a guy’s gym funk. We’re in a gym doing activities that are designed to make people sweat and most people build up an odor when they do said activities.

            The funk has a perfectly valid reason for being in the gym. Cologne does not.

        • Right on, Joanna, I don’t see anything wrong with makeup you already had on when you happened to stop at the gym, but to intentionally put on a full face just to go work out just seems silly to me.
          (Full disclosure: My workout is pole dancing and I do sometimes put on makeup before I practice, even in the privacy of my home. I also wear heels and booty shorts for this type of exercise, though, so the makeup is just part of the costume for the days when I feel like it.)

  3. Gint Aras says:

    Yoga class camel toe. This video has ruined it for those in the know.

  4. I’ve had a guy just come out and stare at me while I was running on the treadmill at the gym…Ick!

    I notice guys are less likely to do stuff like that as long as my husband or Sensei is around…My karate sensei has scared off a few guys! Ha…!

  5. I just started doing PiYo. I’m the only guy. Even if I were single, I’d feel like a fool. The checking out the asses…sure, they’re there. Can’t help that. You make eye contact. Can’t help that. Winking? Either gender it’s as unsettling as me in Lycra.

  6. Noah Brand says:

    Man, I’ve seen too many of those same behaviors. One of the reasons I prefer to work out at home.

  7. There has always been a bit of a “creepy” factor for me in this…

  8. Tom Matlack says:

    Just like when I work out with the mad Russian Konstantin…

  9. I go to gym just to lift weights. I’m rarely talk to anyone, well except with my friends. Even if I’m talking to strangers, its just men. Some beautiful women wear tight and revealing clothes on gym and I dont look at at them. Maybe just a glance, then I back to my weights. Never care for them, and I never approached women in gym. Maybe because I always try to focus in gym. When you do 10 sets on squats and 10 sets on deadlifts, you would not care for the chick next to you, seriously. If I dont focus, those weights would crush me.

    Thats why I really like going to gym. Its the only place I can focus 100% on myself, the only place I dont care a bit for women, even if they are sexy and wearing revealing clothes in front of me. My mind is on how much weights I can lift next sets.

  10. We need a GMP article on the etiquette (or just immorality) of picking people up in the gym. Guys do that in reality? Take whatever angle you want, just seems sleazy.

    • And how, pray tell, is it “immoral” to try and pick up people at the gym? That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard (and I’ve heard ALOT of ridiculous things here). Granted a gym is not a “usual” pick up spot and there is a time and place for everything, but why should it be completely off limits.
      Right now it seems like any place except a bar is “creepy” to try and pick someone up in. But wait, a few years back we had Pink with her fabulous “U+ur hand” song that basically says bars are off limits now too.

    • I agree with Pete, it’s not immoral to pick up people at the gym… but I’d say it has to happen organically, rather than intentionally.

      That is to say, you don’t go to the gym to pick up men/women, but if you meet someone at the gym and there are sparks, there’s no rule saying you can’t pursue it.

      A lot of the time when I read advice for people who are having trouble meeting people (romantically or otherwise), the advice is to join a club, class, group or gym to find like-minded individuals in a lower-pressure setting. When it comes to a gym, as long as you don’t give off obvious “I’m not here to work out but to meet people” vibes, I think it’s fine to be open to meeting someone. How to not give off that vibe: Take your workout seriously. If you’re in a yoga class with a bunch of women, we’ll be much more at ease if we see that you’re actually putting effort into the yoga and paying attention to the instructor — that’s a clue that you’re here for the same reasons we are, not as an excuse to meet abnormally flexible potential sex partners.

  11. Ok I’m a little curious as to how much of the stuff in that video was actual behavior and how much was over the top stereotyping.

    Two things in particular.

    1. At about 1:59 the guy that bending and checking out his ass in the mirror. Do women really do that stuff in a public gym?

    2. At about 3:05 where the woman was jogging and said, “Hey boys.” to which the guy said afterward, “Really?”. What was seriously wrong that warranted a borderline snobbish “Really?” over someone saying hey as they jogged past? if she had stopped and ogled or something like that then sure but saying hey as you pass by?

    • When I showed the video to my husband and he got to the bending-over part, he cracked up and clapped and said “I’ve seen women do exactly that.” Some level of reflection-gazing is common to both sexes, though. But I’d say women who do it in a public gym are a *little* more discreet than in this parody.

      Second one, if you flip the genders back, a guy jogging by two women walking on a path saying “Hey ladies” with that tone of voice would probably make some women roll their eyes. It was the suggestion of flirting that warranted the “Really?” although I agree that reaction is snobbish.

      I cross paths with people all the time while walking my dog, or at the gym, or wherever. If our eyes meet and we exchange a nod and a “Hello” or “Good morning” or something like that, it’s completely benign. But “hey ladies/boys” has a different connotation to it, a come-on, which some women find inherently threatening. Not “good god he just harassed me” threatening — I wouldn’t even call it a red flag, but a yellow. It puts the guy on our radar of skepticism and caution.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I have looked at my ass when I bent over at a gym. But I tried to do it subtly. I have done it for ONE reason only – because sometimes yoga pants get see through when you bend over! I was pre-screening for a yoga class. Hahah. I know, I’m a creep.

      If a guy goes, “HEYYYYY” when I’m jogging past, like all Joey Tribbiani, yes, I might go “Really?” but if he’s like “Hey!” just normal, no, I’ll say “Hi”.

      Difference in tone.

      • wellokaythen says:

        “How YOU doin’?” is the Tribiani move. It requires a quick chin lift on the “YOU” part, which could be dangerous while jogging….

  12. Chris Wilbon says:

    Isn’t this video just reinforcing antiquated stereotypes about men and women? I mean, if we are to make sense of the jokes we have to make assumptions like:

    The typical woman at a gym is weak and doesn’t really work out that hard.
    The typical man at the gym is sleazy and objectifying and self-absorbed.

    Perpetuating these stereotypes doesn’t seem to be helping men or women. I guess my question is, what can we gain from watching this video? Why is it here on GMP?

    • It is in more than one way… I work out in the weight room for the most part, and I don’t even notice who’s doing what or when. I concentrate on what I’m doing, and if someone takes a peek, it’s not something that really bothers me… As far as I see it, it’s not my problem.

    • Kathryn DeHoyos says:

      To one degree this video IS reinforcing stereotypes, but by reversing the roles (and making them bigger than they are in real life) it help shine a light on how ridiculous they really are. Anything that brings attention to these harmful beliefs and makes you sit back and go “wait? is it really like that?” and maybe even reevaluate your own behavior is, in my opinion, a good thing…

      • Lisa Hickey says:

        I laughed because I’m the one who is always competitive with the weights — can I set the Nautilus weight just a little higher than the person before me (guy or girl). I do think there is something to be said for showing how ridiculous the stereotypes are.

    • With all we’re learning about how women should be lifting heavy weights, and all the strides that we’ve taken to ensure that women stay fit and healthy through all ages doing so, this isn’t very useful.

      Similarly it’s not very interesting to see men depicted like leering grunts, either. It’s simplistic and sexist. I’m sure I’m a leering creep myself some days. Bodies in motion are beautiful, and my blood runs redder when my heart rate is up.

      Women and men have a lot to learn from each other in the gym, period. At best this video comes off as about 20 years behind reality. At worst it’s offensive to both genders. Nope, sorry, at worst it’s not very funny.

      • wellokaythen says:

        I’m still curious to see how people define “leering” as distinct from “looking”. Is it duration, or the look on the man’s face, or the attractiveness of the man himself, or an intuitive feeling, or…..?

        • My guess is it’s a bit of ill intent and a bit of perceived ill intent. Like many things, I think “you know it when you see it.”

          I work out in a group that is about 90% male. The majority of them are there to work out, just like me. I don’t think they want anyone to be uncomfortable while they’re working out. I certainly don’t. (Even though I admit, I’m looking sometimes. I don’t mean to, but we’re only human.)

          It’s just an unfair depiction.

        • I’d agree with duration and intent. And also came up with this rule-of-thumb. Not a perfect litmus test, but a decent guideline.

          If your eyes are pointed at me, and we make eye contact, and you smile and say “hey” or “good morning” and then otherwise go your own way, you were looking.

          If your eyes are pointed at me, and we make eye contact, and you say nothing and/or look away hastily, you were probably leering. And if you do anything suggestive like wink, or raise eyebrows, or flex, or say “hey sweetie” or anything like that, you were definitely leering and have stepped toward creeping.

          Again, not perfect because some people do avoid eye contact with strangers for benign reasons, but decent enough if you want to figure out if you were leering or looking.

          And this is not to say flirtation and pick-ups don’t, can’t, or shouldn’t happen at the gym. But most of us don’t go to the gym to get picked up, so flirt at your own risk.

          • If your eyes are pointed at me, and we make eye contact, and you smile and say “hey” or “good morning” and then otherwise go your own way, you were looking.

            If your eyes are pointed at me, and we make eye contact, and you say nothing and/or look away hastily, you were probably leering.

            I propose locking up this comment in a cage match witha recent comment from the professional matchmakers over at “10 DOs and DON’Ts For Dating, From Professional Matchmakers”, and see which rule of thumb wins. 😀

            From that comment:

            We know you can’t help but look…and it can be flattering when we catch you, as you catch yourself and look away

            I can’t speak for all men, of course, but here’s how that “caught looking” thing has always felt to me, and I don’t think it’s changed much from when I was younger to now at the age of 43. I had a pretty liberal upbringing in many ways, but from whatever combination of being raised Catholic, being shy, being molested one time as an adolescent, and maybe playing too much Atari, I internalized a belief that looking at women was rude, they wouldn’t like it, they’d likely feel threatened by it, it was selfish of me to do, and even if they wanted to be looked at, they didn’t want to be looked at by me. So, while it sounds perfectly sensible to me to just smile and go my own way if caught looking in a woman’s direction, that would require more confidence than I usually had, even though I *never* had any ill intent or plan to put the moves on her just because she was pleasant to look at. (One of my first articles to be published at GMP was about exactly that.) Even if my rational thought was that I’m not so hideous that every woman in the world would feel creeped out by detecting my gaze, my usual reflex was to do the quick look-away thing, because that’s what I thought would make her the most comfortable, not because I was trying to mask a threat I posed.

            It seems to me that the thing about leering vs. looking is that it isn’t only about the duration and intent of the looker. It also has to do with how welcome that gaze is, meaning if it’s someone you *want* to have look at you, the same look that’s a threatening leer from one person is a flattering look from someone else. So, where advice about how to look without leering is concerned, I think that like a lot of other dating and courtship advice, it’s subject to what I’ll call “The Ryan Gosling Effect”. I believe women are sincere in the advice they give about how to do it right, but the suggested behaviors only stand a chance at being attractive if Ryan Gosling does it. Not literally, but the point is that when an attractive person does something, it’s different from when an unattractive person does the exact same thing. I believe psychologists call it the Halo Effect, but I’m not fluent enough in that research to go spouting off on it, so I took the easy way out and called on Ryan. (And before you protest, I concede there’s something like the Megan Fox Effect, too, where guys describe attractive behaviors that probably have more to do with the Halo Effect than the actual behaviors.)

    • Yes because women never stare at men at the gym, nor do they ever touch them right? Women never sexually assault men, nor do they perv at men. Such stereotypes need to die already.

      When pointing out sexism, don’t become sexist. And what’s up with the overweight woman and the sweat left behind, everyone sweats.

  13. wellokaythen says:

    I wouldn’t want that sort of harassment by a woman every time I worked out, but I gotta say I wouldn’t mind it once in a while if the women looked like that. Does that make me an insensitive cretin?

    The flip sort of fails for me a little. I don’t find sweat on a woman to be any sort of turn-off, so showing really sweaty women didn’t quite resonate with me.

    Is it just me, or does it make the stereotypical woman at a gym sound stupider than the stereotypical man at a gym?

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      They both sound stupid.

      The best moment is, “Don’t be a little penis!”

      I think that the harassment thing is put into perspective by the fact that she touches him and he’s obviously uncomfortable. And see, any time a guy even leers at me, or says something, I’m afraid that sort of touching (or worse) comes next. Because that shit does happen!

      • And this is why I dislike going to a gym where there’s women. I’m very sure it’s sexist, I just don’t want to be accused of leering, or looking, or glancing, or creeping, or any other word someone would use to degrade me because they think I’m a walking rape machine.

        I walk into a gym and there’s a female in skin tight lycra bent over RIGHT in front of the mirror and I’m the creepy one for stupidly letting my gaze drift across the gym and she just HAPPENS to be in my field of view? That’s total crap. I’m so fearful of being accused of any number of supposed sexual deviancy that I just do my best to stay away from women at the gym. I avert my eyes, I stay as far away as possible and I just generally flee whenever there’s a crowd of them. I’m just waiting to get pepper sprayed because a stretch of mine may cause me to glance in their direction.

        Here’s the crazy thing. If it gets crowded and the woman in skin tight everything decides now is the time to invade my little pushup space and I leave with a nice “excuse me”, I get this “What’s wrong, can’t hang with a chick?” It takes all I have to not say “No, it’s not that, it’s just that I’m one sideways glance away from you screaming sexual harassment/calling me a creep/glaring with righteous anger, that I quite literally want nothing to do with you or the concept of you. Please leave me alone”

        But I don’t. Because I’m nice. So I leave. Because it’s far easier to just admit defeat and walk away than face the indignity of being called a “Creeper” because I have to look straight ahead when I’m doing air squats and your bum is in my damned field of view.

        • wellokaythen says:

          I think women are less likely to be offended by your looking in their direction if you’re exercising as well. It’s the staring by men just standing there doing nothing else that’s the most annoying. I used to work out in a gym in a hotel in China. Local businessmen would come to the gym to sit at tables, smoke, and watch American women work out. I’d say that’s fundamentally different than looking in a woman’s direction while you’re working out as well.

          Besides, how is it a worst-case scenario if a woman over-reacts to where your eyes are pointing? Are you afraid she’s going to get the management to expel you because your eyes glanced in her direction?

          As far as I’m concerned, your eyes are your own, you can move them (or not) any way you want to. Your gaze does not actually touch other people. Besides, how can she tell you are looking at her without her looking at you?

          You could try wearing sunglasses so they can’t see where you’re looking, but that’ll probably draw too much attention to you as well.

        • There are all-female gyms because we fear the exact opposite of what you fear, Justin. You fear accusation and potential retaliation, and we fear a spectrum of behaviors from being leered at to being actually assaulted. These fears are sexist, sure, but come from the same place, self-protection. Sadly, many women have learned through experience to be cautious of men at the gym, and I’m sure men have learned through experience to be cautious of women, too.

          Unfortunately, it’s kind of tough to dress modestly for a workout. You want exposed skin to allow yourself to cool off (and yes, gaze at your reflection – everyone does it), and you want form-fitting clothes that don’t trap heat against the body, wick away sweat, and aren’t a hazard for getting caught in the machines. In *most* cases, the choice of Lycra isn’t a deliberate attempt to tease you, but practical to the task at hand.

          • wellokaythen says:

            So, presumably it would be totally fair for men to create all-male gyms?

            • wellokaythen says:

              Instead of “Curves,” it could be called “Lines”?

            • I think it would be fair, yes! And I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen any yet, at least not in my area. For such a thing to exist, though, there would have to be a demand for it from the market. It does not surprise me at all that enough women wanted a single-sex facility that they became a thing, but it seems not enough men are so bothered by a co-ed environment that they demand a man gym.

              Ugh, I can already see the potentially TERRIBLE marketing that would go into launching a man gym. With something as “macho” as working out, one can only imagine the ads would be sexist drivel a la the Man Soap that was covered here not long ago.

              • I would LOVE a ‘male only ‘gym. Just last week I’m waiting to go on the leg press machine (hammer strength), the end of my workout, while some woman takes her sweet ass time. One of the other patrons sees me getting frustrated and says “Why don’t you jump in and share while she’s resting between sets (a common gym practice)? I say “Look, she’s working with 60 pounds, I’m using 450 pounds (you have to add the plates with a Hammerstrength machine). So I had to sit and wait. How I wish there were ‘Men only ‘ gyms

              • Actually there have been a few attempts, they usually get squashed under “anti-discrimination” legislation. (irony of ironies.)

            • There’s only one way to join an all-male weightlifting facility. Go to prison.

              • My gym is all male by virtue of the fact there isn’t a single cardio machine in sight to offend the eye. You walk in and all you see is weights and guys lifting. I think I’ve seen 2 girls in the space of a number of months there.

            • That would be great! Except that in New York anyway, it’s illegal. You can’t deny women entry into any facility open to the public. You CAN deny men entry.

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