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Safer Gyms Scheme

 Safer Gyms JPEG

Safer Gyms is a scheme launched in Newark, to increase feelings of safety for women and girls within fitness centres and gymnasiums.

Attending the gym is a key part of many people's lives so, as part of the Newark Safer Streets Project, partners want to ensure fitness facilities are enjoyable and a comfortable space for all members by creating this group.

The Safer Gyms scheme comes from the Safer Streets funding secured by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire, which has a large focus on violence against women and girls. 

Research shows it is common that an individual's behaviour would gradually build up leading to violence against women and girls, as long before an assault takes place the offender will have learnt particular behaviours and phrases which cause females to feel uncomfortable around them.

There are many projects, including training, being delivered within the night-time economy to reduce violence against women and girls. However a gap has been identified within the fitness industry, as this is also a common place for innappropriate behaviours towards women and girls.   

Many experiences will go unreported with women choosing to avoid certain areas of the gym or make other changes to prevent a repeat experience. Although this may be the most comfortable option for women, it leaves the behaviour unchallenged which allows the individual to become more confident. This can lead to an increase of the severity, or frequency, of such occurances. 

Safer Gym Group membership
Local gyms are invited to participate in the scheme and will become a member of Safer Gyms once they have met the requirements. This will include on-site assesements, training for staff and having a discreet method of reporting available. Members will be provided with Safer Gyms signage and feature on a register alongside other members. 

Survey Results
To make the initiative as experienced-based as possible, a survey was designed to gather the views of women surrounding feelings of safety within gyms.

The “Exploring women’s experiences within the fitness industry” survey was open for all of Nottinghamshire residents to complete and closed on 31st March 2023. A total of 488 people responded to the survey, with 135 women having had an uncomfortable experience or interaction whilst attending the gym.

The survey asked respondents to select types of behaviours they had experienced which made them feel uncomfortable. Here are the results:

  • 76% - being stared at.
  • 20% - being followed.
  • 36% - receiving advice on how to use equipment that you didn’t ask for.
  •   9% - being photographed or recorded.
  • 34% - flirtatious comments.
  • 11% - physical contact.
  • 19% - Other – including comments about their shape and appearance, asking personal questions, sneering and having unsolicited contact from a personal trainer.

As a result of these experiences survey respondents shared what effect it had on them:

  • 87.5% felt like they needed to make a change after their uncomfortable experience.
  • 32% avoided that area of the gym.
  • 31% left the gym.
  • 30% changed the time/day they attended.
  • 16% changed what they wore/their appearance.
  • 15% avoided performing that exercise.
  • 13% did not feel like they needed to make a change after their uncomfortable experience.

Results show that 82% of experiences were not reported to either the police or the gym, with 50% of respondents not knowing how to report incidents to their gym. The survey also asked for views on what would improve safety and feelings of safety for those attending the gym and these suggestions are being used to form the basis of the Safer Gyms membership requirements.

How to report an incident
In emergencies always dial 999.