My gym usually posts a fitness challenge every month. Up until now these fit challenges have typically taken the form of a one size fits all list of exercises to be done as quick as possible. Participants then listed their name and time to completion on the challenge sign-up sheet. That is all good. The challenges seem to be reasonably popular and many people find this sort thing motivating.
The June challenge however has some serious issues. Every time I look at one of the posters for this June’s challenge I have fantasized about taking a fat red marker and drawing a giant frowning face on the poster with the words “Why so sexist?” underneath.
The June challenge was a maximum rep pull-up challenge. This was awesome until I looked past the title. When I read the directions I discovered that it is not in fact a pull-up challenge for everyone. It is a pull-up challenge if you are male. If you are female you get a separate sign-up column for longest dead hang.
Why is gym management assuming that all women can’t do pull-ups? What about the women that can do pull-ups? They exist. Where do they sign up?
Why is gym management assuming that all men can do pull-ups? What about the men who can’t do pull-ups? They also exist. Where do they sign up?
I have been working towards be being able to do unassited pull-ups. I am not there yet, but I can sure as hell can do more than a dead hang. Personally, I don’t find getting automatically stuffed into the “weaker” category based on my gender to be very motivating.
The most annoying this about this challenge is that it could be so easily fixed to not perpetuate the ridiculous myths like that all women can’t do pull-ups or that women have less upper body strength. All the gym has to do to fix this is to eliminate gender completely and post: Maximum pull-up OR longest dead hang challenge (The winner in each category gets a new water bottle!). Anyone that wants to participate can then just select the exercise the works best for them regardless of their gender. They could even go a step further to accomodate people of intermediate fitness levels by adding a third category for band assisted pullups.