Gone are the days when women avoided the gym’s weight room for fear of “bulking up.” Today, CrossFit boxes and weight rooms alike are packed with strong women—and the men who share the benches and pull-up bars with them.
So what are the guys at the gym thinking when they see you grab the 18 kilogram dumbbells? We got them to share. (And, turns out, they’re all for it.)
“One of the first things I notice when I see a woman lifting at the gym isn’t her form—it’s whether she’s lifting more than I am. This is immediately followed by either a renewed sense of confidence or me reaching for the rack to increase my weights.” —Ryan F., Boston, MA
“Maybe it’s because I’m always on such a time crunch when I’m at the gym, but I don’t really pay any mind to the other people there—male or female. However, if it’s just a woman and me in the free-weight area, I’ll give her a wider berth than I would a dude, just because I don’t want her thinking I’m creeping on her. But as far as, ‘Is it weird or exciting that women are in the weight room?’ Nope. Man or woman, whatever, just don’t sit and stare at your phone while I’m waiting for you to get up from the leg press.” —William H., Brooklyn, NY
"I really only notice people—not women specifically—who aren't taking the gym seriously or are doing more selfie-taking than lifting. And this definitely goes for guys and girls. We're not here to goof off with friends—we're here to work hard and continue a healthy lifestyle. When I see a woman working out (and killing it!) next to me, it's motivating to try even harder." —Mike P., Long Island, NY
“I’m a competitive runner, but I also work out at a CrossFit gym. While I’d like to think my upper body is slightly bigger than most of the guys I race against, I’m not necessarily putting up a lot of weight on the bar during workouts. So when I see a woman lifting in these classes, they’re very strong and fit. It’s impressive and also motivating. My thoughts are usually along the lines of, ‘Wow, she’s got way more on the bar than I do.’” —Gian C., Brooklyn, NY
“I don’t think about anything when I see women in the weight room. If anything, I might notice form issues, but my female friends are very vocal about how much they hate it when a man tries to say something to them at the gym. So I just keep my mouth shut. I do laugh at how many of my friends take videos and pictures of themselves in the gym these days, but males do that, too, so it’s not just a female thing.” —Gary B., San Francisco, CA
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.