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Are Women's Fitness Programs Sexist?

After years of debate about health clubs that cater to women, two recent stories show that fitness facilities still struggle to offer women's fitness programs without allegations of sexism.

Earlier this month, CrossFit South Brooklyn made headlines when a woman considering joining the gym took offense to the women-only class being called "Tough Titsday." The woman emailed owner David Osorio saying she was uncomfortable with the class's name and thought it should be changed, according to news reports.

She received a response from the trainer who created the class, Margie Lempert, who said she chose the class's name "as a subversive, cheeky reclamation of silly vulgarity."

The exchange grew more heated and led to Osorio banning the woman from the gym. In a statement posted on the gym's website, Osorio said he would be open to debating the class's name if the conversation was respectful.

Lempert also released a statement on the gym's website explaining why she started the class and how women can benefit from it.

"When I started coaching, and our membership became more diverse, I wanted to offer women an opportunity to develop a… desire for strength," Lempert said. "I wanted to share the powerful self-possession I experienced. And I wanted women to feel awesome about it. I've now witnessed many women experience a similar transformation to mine, which has been endlessly gratifying."

Trying to get more women to feel comfortable exercising is a worthwhile endeavor. For some women-only facilities, it can also be a profitable one, although they also have faced allegations of sexism. Other health clubs have tried to appeal to women by designating women-only hours or areas of the gym.

One of those facilities, Kentish Town Sports Centre, London, is being sued for offering women-only hours. Peter Lloyd filed a lawsuit against the club in April after asking the facility's manager to introduce men-only hours, charge men less for their memberships or get rid of single-gender sessions entirely, according to an op-ed Lloyd wrote that was published by the Daily Mail.

The manager declined to make any of the proposed changes and said that the hours are in place because a significant portion of women are self-conscious about how they look while working out.

Lloyd said that male members should not have to pay full price when they are not allowed to use the gym as often as female members. Lloyd also noted that the gym's policy ignores that men may also have insecurities about their bodies. He wrote that he hopes his lawsuit will inspire men in similar situations to take action and lead the health club to change their policies or refund 10 percent of his membership fees.

Do you think it is fair to ask men to pay for a full gym membership if there are certain times and areas of the club that are off-limits to them? How does your health club appeal to women without isolating other members? Let us know in the comments below.

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