Many teenage girls at RHS struggle with the intimidation of the Wellness Center. By just walking in on a given Monday, Wednesday, or Friday – the days on which the gym is open for use by all – you can see why. The Wellness Center on these open lift days is almost exclusively male-dominated, which can make walking into this fraternity as a female feel somewhat unwelcoming. Also, working out in a room with the majority sex being males can place undesired attention and pressure on girls. On average, females tend to have about two-thirds of the amount of muscle mass that males do. It is possible that some girls are embarrassed by their lack of strength in comparison to many other students they would be working out with. Or maybe girls just want to be able to workout with their friends and without the eyes of the male majority on them. In order to open up the gym to females and accommodate these issues, there seems to be only one clear solution.
Within the past few years, Ridgewood High School decided to dedicate the weight room after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to girls only. The decision to do this had the intentions to make sure each student felt comfortable and accepted, even while working out. On another hand, this could be seen as a sexist movement that girls and guys should not work out together. Some students find the female only lift days as unnecessary because the gym is technically open to all students, regardless of gender, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Also, the female only lift days might seem to incorporate a level of misogyny and condescension. Males are often thought of as more athletic and strong when compared to females. Because of this stereotype, deciding which days girls can workout without guys seems to say that girls are incapable of enduring the intensity of the male-dominated lift days. However, regardless of the potential elements and intentions of the new lift days, the number of girls that work out after school, as a result, has increased dramatically.
We interviewed a physical education teacher and personal trainer at RHS, Frank Giannantonio. We asked him on his opinion on having dedicated days for females to work out. He stated that he understands that it may seem sexist that girls and boys at Ridgewood High School are not working out together; however, there has been an increased amount of girls coming to the weight room on Tuesday and Thursdays. He noted that before having the dedicated days, not a single girl worked out at the RHS weight room. Recently on the specific days the room is packed with females. We also interviewed three girls who use the weight room. We asked them questions including how often they worked out and whether or not they preferred having days where only girls worked out. Each student answered similarly by mentioning how they only come to the Ridgewood weight room on Tuesdays and Thursdays because there is no pressures of working out in front of guys.
After hearing the students perspective, having the exclusive days in the weight room is beneficial to ensure students are maximizing their ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is important to recognize that fitness is a personal journey that is necessary to undergo in order to keep an active, fit life. If most female students were depriving themselves of a sufficient workout because they felt uncomfortable being around guys, it is necessary to have these days even though it seems controversial to split up genders.
Jackie Schmidt and Jules Einemer
Graphic: Maraea Garcia