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Where Women Run the Gym, and There's No Need for a Men's Locker Room

Fleeing sexual harassment and unwanted attention, many women find that big coed gyms are just not their jam. POSH Fit, one of many women-only gyms in South Florida, caters to clients but also creates community.

Photo by Jonathan Borba

By Jessica Harris | MediaLab@FAU

May 9, 2024

With summer approaching, more women make their way to gyms to get their bodies into a shape that feels good. However, women are more prone to being sexually harassed, filmed without their consent and even assaulted. For some, it’s a reason to stop going to the gym altogether.

Welcome to the world of women-only gyms such as POSH Fit, a small but mighty fitness center located in downtown Boca Raton. These gyms help women not only see results, but feel safe in the environment where they come for their best workout.

This gym helps a maximum of 18 people at a time. The training is done by one or two coaches, giving clients the experience not only of personalized attention but of being motivated by other women in their small group. 

There have been multiple occurrences throughout the years of women being attacked in gyms, whether in small gyms located in their apartment communities or just regular coed gyms. 

In Tampa last year, a woman named Nashali Alma was working out alone in a gym in her apartment complex when she let in a man who was outside the door, assuming that he was a resident who had just forgotten his key fob.

She went on with her workout before the man then approached her, grabbing her waist. This then turned into a struggle between as she fought him off despite being pinned to the ground. Alma was able to fend him off and call 911. The man was charged with sexual battery, false imprisonment and kidnapping.

Stories like that only confirm for some women why they're better off working out in the company of other women.

According to a survey from Run Repeat in 2021, 56% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in a gym. That compares to 21% of men who reported such harassment. 

Of the 56% of women, more than a quarter of them stopped using gyms completely. Close to 30% say they felt uncomfortable in their gyms, and another 30% changed their routines or schedules to avoid harassment. About one in five decided to change their appearance and clothing when heading to the gym to avoid unwanted attention.

Given the number of women who have had bad experiences in coed workout spaces, it stands to reason that all-women gyms have been on the rise. Enthusiasts and entrepreneurs say these environments give women the choice and comfort of working out without feeling like they need to be on guard or fending off advances.

“Nobody’s judging them,” said Claudia Maicon, the owner of POSH Fit. “They feel unjudged here and that’s important to me because we live in an environment so superficial, so I want them to have this place as their safe place.”

Despite the many benefits of a women-only gyms, there have been many downsides as well which has ultimately kept women from leaving their co-ed gyms. 

“They’re so expensive,” Caroline Barrett, a 24 year-old woman who currently has a membership at one of the Planet Fitness branches in Delray Beach. “I’d love to try one of them out but the price is what holds me back.”

According to POSH Fit’s website though, their group training is more affordable than one-on-one training. 

“You paying your gym membership is an investment, that is an investment within yourself” Maicon said. “Even if you are the best athlete in the world, you’re getting that emotional support and that emotional strength to take you outside of the world and be a better person.”

POSH Fit offers 28 classes which include strength and conditioning, wellness and recovery, as well as classes called “booty lab,” “upper body hottie” and “flex and flow.”

Some of the memberships are $139 a month, while the Unlimited Platinum Premium which gives members full access to the gym and all of the classes on offer, is $199 a month. The gym also has class packs where patrons are able to purchase five classes for $125 or 10 classes for $225. POSH also offers a student discount of $100 a month. 

POSH also has a 12-week transformation class that works one-on-one with the individual’s lifestyle and aids them in their diet. It includes high-intensity workouts with a fitness trainer at POSH Fit. The program includes weigh-ins and monthly photoshoots to track the person’s progress and inspire others. The price tag: $1,500.

“We have a woman in a year that lost over 100 pounds and two women within 12 weeks that lost 25 pounds and they keep going,” Maicon said. “These women’s lives have changed here mentally, physically, emotionally, and the strength that I have seen and the growth is significant.”

Being in an all women’s gyms is not only about working out with women, but also making connections and networking, she said. They don’t see them as just clients but also regular people trying to make a living as well. 

“We have a lot of women who own their own businesses,” Valerie Adamkiewicz, the studio manager of POSH Fit said. When possible, they patronize and promote each other’s work. “We have girls that do lashes and make up, everyone does something different. and we all go to each other so you’re building your own business while going to the gym.”

Price isn’t the only barrier that steers some women away from these gyms, but also lack of equipment and location.

“The most legit women’s gyms I could find was down south,” said Elizabeth Louis, a Royal Palm Beach resident who had just finished a workout at her Planet Fitness, when referring to the women-only gyms in other cities beyond Boca Raton. “If I could find one that is close to my house, I’d definitely go.” 

Women who work out – and work at – POSH Fit in Boca Raton. (Photo by Jessica Harris)

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