Rules of Engagement

Working out, be it in a gym or your local park, is hard work. And if you are working hard, it is very likely that you won't be at your cutest, certainly not while sweating, huffing and making faces that would scare a child. It is even more likely that during exercise you will be in a space full of male exercisers, sometimes as the only female. It stands to reason then that your presence and behaviour as such shouldn’t be any more obvious than it needs to be. Still, there are many instances where women try to be more than just that, either by seeking attention in varying ways or by displaying poor hygiene and manners’, thinking it doesn’t matter because they are exercising.

However, though the demographics of exercising women span different ages, social statuses, and occupations, when it comes to exercising the rules of engagement are standard for everyone. By learning and sharing them with our girlfriends, sisters and mothers, we make becoming stronger, fitter and healthier women a more enriching experience!

1. Dress Appropriately For Comfort, Safety, and Hygiene

No matter the reason for exercising, there is none that would excuse wearing pantyhose for tights or flip-flops for sneakers. Nor would it warrant leaving sweat all over a machine or spitting gum in the cooler. None of the above is decent, safe or hygienic. Aim to wear clothing made of cotton or sweat absorbing material that will protect your skin, cover the important body parts, allow you freedom movement and won't put you at risk of heat stroke or catching a cold. When it comes to footwear, wear that which will provide support, be comfortable, will allow your foot to breathe and will be compatible with the activity being done. If unsure of what to wear, then pairing plain or funky-coloured, cotton t-shirts and tanks with cotton, breathable sweatpants, capris or shorts that fit, are the easiest options. Practice good hygiene before, during and after exercise such as washing hands after using the bathroom, using a towel to sit or lie on and wipe up any sweat left behind and drinking from your own water bottle.

2. Leave the Heavy Makeup and Hairstyle

Having perfect hair and makeup before heading to coming from work is a must-have for the fashion savvy woman. For this one time, you’ll want to forget about your perfect up-do and makeup and settle for a clean face and a ponytail or headband. Once your workout begins you won’t want to worry about cleaning up, the makeup runs all over your clothes and everything else you come in contact with. Nor do you want to be holding up the falling hair or fending off the flying strands trying to choke you. This can be distracting and unsafe not just to you, but other patrons using the same space as well. Imagine dropping a dumbbell on someone’s foot because you had to catch your hair? You certainly don’t that kind of risk.

3. Forget The Man Trolling Exercises and Flirty Moves

How often do you spot that hunk that makes you want to channel your inner seductress? If you happen to spot one in the middle of your workout, simply take a breath and keep on working. There'll be time to strike up a conversation when you are done. If just the chance of meeting men propels you to wear the tightest booty shorts you own or bend over in suggestive stretches at every opportunity, then the only thing you are showing is that you are not interested in exercise. You will only be a distraction to those around you who are and are likely to attract unpleasant and unflattering comments and attention from others. Focus instead on the benefits you are likely to receive from your workouts physically and otherwise and let them become your motivation. A man who sees this will know and appreciate the fact that you take pride in yourself and that alone will make you attractive.

4. Don't Confuse Breathing Techniques with Moaning

If you've ever watched an exercise video or taken any form of exercise class you would have seen or heard a common instruction given throughout, "Inhale while relaxed and exhale on the exertion". Often during such exertions, some will make a sound; a slight 'whoosh' of breath indicating exhalation while others will elicit pornographic type groans and moans. Ladies, it doesn't matter that your trainer is trying to kill you; the latter is not attractive nor is it likely to be tolerated by most. It is yet again another distraction and prevents others from enjoying their workout time. Be intense by all means, no one will hold that against you, but it is important to be considerate as well.

5. Get In, Get to Work Then Get Out of The Way

In public places like your park, gym or hill trails, there is bound to be high traffic during a rush hour period. It, therefore, means that many people will be trying to use the same spaces thereby making navigation through said spaces impossible at worst, and challenging at best. How do you manage through this without getting frustrated or lost? Have a plan, get to it and when finished, get out of the way. Whether you participate in an aerobics class or a five lap run in the park, once you are done, be gone. Do not be the woman who stands around idly gossiping or lounging in a space others are trying to use, it is disruptive. Instead, be the woman who moves with a purpose, who sets goals and annihilates each one, time and time again.

6. Be Encouraging, Supportive and Tolerant Of Other Women

At a time when more women are become high risk for heart disease and varying cancers, seeing women take steps to better their health through exercise is a reason to celebrate. It doesn’t matter if they walk ten laps rather than run, gossiping and discouraging their efforts because they are new to exercise or not up to a certain standard is petty and distasteful. Women should instead recognize the efforts for what they are, steps in the right direction, and try to support, encourage and help those women where they can. That may mean a simple “you go girl” to someone struggling to finish a workout. The more women get active, feel encouraged and have supported the greater the chances of them making and keeping these healthy lifestyle changes, permanently.


Shanique Green