This girl can: so can this man…

I was listening to an item on the television this morning about the entirely laudable This Girl Can campaign aimed at getting girls and women to take part in sport. The premise is that girls are too preoccupied with looking good and not wanting to look sweaty to get involved in sport, and have to be persuaded that appearance is unimportant compared to fitness. I am sure that this is true.

As is often the case, though, I find myself asking the question “What about the boys?”.  Personally, as an older, unfit and (slightly!) overweight man, I am very self-conscious when exercising in front of anyone at all: I can jiggle and sweat as well as any woman! My face can go as red as any embarrassed and unfit girl!

A few years ago I resigned from my gym club because, on three consecutive visits, I had to wait for over 15 minutes for a cross-trainer, as the dozens available were all being used by pretty much equal numbers of both men and women. The layout of the building meant that I was forced to wait by the door to a “women only” gym room, in which were arrayed cross-trainers galore standing ignored and unused by the women for whom they were intended. Those women, of course, were using the machines in the main, mixed gym, which were the only ones I was allowed to use! I was paying the same exorbitant fee as the women, but without the politically correct, but underused, single sex facilities. Not that I particularly wanted a single sex gym: but, then again, apparently neither did the women. It was just political correctness gone mad: the club was pandering to a non-existent need in order to tick a box in their advertisements.

As in so many other instances, the one-sided focus on “women’s issues” was overriding common sense and fairness.

Nowadays, if I want to exercise I just grin and bear the embarrassment. Ladies, and gentlemen too, wear your red face with pride!