A “Common” Problem? This Woman Is Sick of Men Harassing Her in The Gym

One woman went viral on social media for her story about how a gym member approached her and told her she had to wear a bra in the gym.

Dress Code For The Gym?

woman on threadmill

Should gym dress codes insist that female members wear bras? Is it inappropriate to work out without one?

One woman faced confrontation over this issue. She posted on social media about an experience at her local gym where a man approached her, insisting she should wear a bra.

Going Braless in Day-to-Day Life

woman working out

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the original poster (OP) worked from home. She spent the bulk of that time “basically never wearing a bra and got used to it.”

When lockdown ended and she returned to the gym, she started working out braless. While her shirt size is an Xtra-Small, she wore oversized shirts to the gym—typically in size Large.

She Caught The Attention of Another Gym Member

man staring at gym

One day in the middle of a set of squats, a male gym member approached her. He tapped her on the shoulder and told her that her “n*pples are poking through [her] shirt.”

OP was immediately irritated. “Why is this guy staring at my n*pples in the first place and then stopping me mid-set to inform me?”

The Man Thought He Was Helping

man looking and talking in gym

Despite her annoyance, she attempted to finish her set. The man proceeded to grab the squat bar and re-racked it for her.

His reasoning? He said that she looked like she was having trouble getting through the workout and that he had approached specifically to help her, only noticing her n*pples after the fact.

I Don’t Need Your Help

woman working out in gym

She told him she didn’t need his help and demanded to know why he was looking at her chest.

The man told her he was going to “spot her” (assist in the exercise), but he noticed her n*pples and thought it’d be inappropriate.

Wear a Bra

woman using dumbbells 1

She pointed out that the safety bar was set, so even if she failed to complete the exercise, there was no danger, and “he wasn’t needed.”

Why Was She Being Picked On?

woman lifting weights

OP was the only girl in the weights section at that moment. She claimed that other guys who were squatting and failing sets “never have to worry about this s—.”

She Lashed Out

woman using bar in gym

Annoyed and made uncomfortable by the stranger, OP retorted: “You have bigger boobs and n*pples than I do. Maybe YOU should wear a bra so people won’t get uncomfortable and you won’t fail your squats.”

The man became defensive and insisted he was only trying to help. He called OP a b—-. His response made her wonder if she had overreacted.

She Started To Wear a Bra Again

woman using dumbbells

Over the course of the next few weeks, OP started wearing bras again, in and out of the gym. She claimed that the incident had nothing to do with her decision. She was struggling with depression, and “dressing for success” was a small way to get herself into a better headspace.

The man and OP shared a common workout schedule, so she “unfortunately” had to see him again. While she sometimes wanted to “grab his [squat]bar out of fake concern while he was squatting,” she resisted the urge and ignored him.

The Man Approached Again

man doing pushups

The dynamic shifted one day while she was deadlifting. She happened to be recording herself checking her form when the same man came up to her. He said, “You know sumo [squatting] is cheating, right?”

OP was used to comments like these from men who were “half joking.” While the comment annoyed her, she ignored him. He repeated his comment a little louder. Again OP ignored him.

Failing To Make Conversation

man at gym

The man then noticed that OP was recording herself and asked if she had an Instagram account and if he could follow her on the platform. For the third time, she ignored him.

After these attempts to engage her failed, the man said something along the lines of “See, your form is so much better now that you’re wearing a bra.”

OP states she then lost it again.” She screamed at the man, calling him a “disgusting, harassing piece of s—.”

Management Got Involved

gym trainer

At this point, a gym employee approached the pair and asked if something was wrong. OP informed the employee that the man had been sexually harassing her for two weeks and asked to speak to a manager.

Management Got Involved

man looking around

The male gym member denied everything. He told staff he “was just trying to help” and that OP was being sensitive.

Management listened to both sides of the story. When giving her side, OP shared the video she’d recorded that day.

In the video, the man’s bra comment could be heard clearly. As a result, the manager gave the man a 30-day ban. The manager also told OP that if he ever bothered her again to let them know, and his ban would become permanent.

She Constantly Deals With This Kind of Behavior

woman stretching in gym

OP shared that she felt vindicated but was frustrated that only one man suffered consequences for what she felt was common behavior.

“It’s nice to see someone have repercussions for their actions, but it’s also exhausting dealing with this kind of thing constantly at the gym, even if it isn’t quite as overt. But I guess I’ll have to keep calm and lift on.”

Social Media Reacted To The Story

social media likes

Commenters on the post found the man’s behavior absurd. Many mocked the man’s approach with comments like: “Excuse me, miss, I just noticed your boobs from over there, and I thought I should come over here and interrupt you so that I can talk about your boobs…”

Others laughed at the man’s reasoning behind the bra statement: “Uhm, a bra will help you stay ‘balanced’? WTF?”

Social Media Reacted To The Story

social media

Many saw the man’s approach as a terrible attempt at flirting, calling it “bad gym pick up artistry 101” and “awkward ‘nice guy’ flirting.”

They also pointed out that calling OP a b—- was out of line and somewhat ironic, given his escalation of the situation two weeks later.

Social Media Reacted To The Story

bench press gym

Others shared OP’s frustrations, sharing comments like “I hated going to the gym because I AM TRYING TO WORK OUT. Leave me the hell alone.”

One user’s sarcastic response read: “‘I really hope that random guy over there will come to give me unsolicited advice’ said no woman at the gym ever.”

A man even shared how his wife—a professional physical therapist and state championship weightlifter—often dealt with “gym bros” trying (incorrectly) to explain the proper technique to her.

Men Approaching You At The Gym?

women squatting in gym

While OP’s post had a positive resolution for her, many users struggle with unwanted approaches in the gym. A few shared their tips and strategies (working out at 7 AM, for example), while others aired their grievances in a supportive space.

Moving forward, perhaps stories like this will help gym members understand how to better respect others’ boundaries.

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This article He Told Her To Wear a Bra to the Gym was syndicated and produced by TPR Teaching. Reddit: source.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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