The great divide: Gym gender gaps

More men spend their time in weight rooms, while women prefer classes. Both genders could benefit from engaging in the other activity. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON – There is a gender gap at the gym — a great divide of sorts.

The weight room tends to be mostly made up of men, while exercise classes are dominated by women.

Dega Schembri, the co-owner of City Fitness Gym in Northwest D.C., says she sees it all the time.

“Men are more private. We see them working out in the weight room pretty much by themselves,” Schembri says.

Women, on the other hand, tend to be more social. Schembri says they gravitate toward group exercise.

“There is a lot of camaraderie and community in group fitness classes,” she says.

Another factor that might be keeping women out of the weight room is the fear that if they lift heavy weights, they will bulk up like a man.

Personal trainer Lucinda LaRee, the other co-owner of City Fitness Gym, says a lot of women tell her they want skinny arms or legs. She says her response is always the same.

“We want to see you lifting enough weight to feel something and to see results. It doesn’t mean you are going to get big and huge and bulky. It just means you are going to get strong,” she says.

As for the men, LaRee says they focus too much on weight training and not enough on flexibility.

“They want to get in here, get right to the heavy weight and get out,” LaRee says.

But it turns out men could learn a lesson from all those women taking yoga or pilates classes. LaRee says flexibility is right up there in importance with muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. She says it should be a component of any fitness plan.

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