Women-only Gyms are Exploding in Popularity in China

Women-only Gyms are Exploding in Popularity in China

A new women-only gym in Central China’s Henan province has got millions of netizens talking about ‘gymtimidation,’ harassment, and gender inclusion

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5:10 PM HKT, Tue December 13, 2022 1 mins read

The 2021 TikTok trend #WomensOnlyGym is making a comeback, but this time in China: On December 8, a women-only gym opened in the country’s central Henan province and quickly became a trending topic on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo. At the time of writing, a related hashtag had generated 150 million views.

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“Gyms exclusively for women give ladies more freedom, and they can wear whatever they want. My intention was to encourage more girls to know and fall in love with fitness and meet more like-minded friends,” one of the two female founders told a Chinese media outlet.

female only gym

Image via the gym’s Xiaohongshu page

It is not the first female-only fitness club in China, however. Thousands of posts pop up when searching ‘women’s gym’ on China’s Instagram-like platform Xiaohongshu.

Such facilities have mushroomed across the country in recent years, including in metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai and lesser-known cities (in the West, anyway) such as Qingdao, Tianjin, Wenzhou, Shantou, Shenzhou, and Shenyang.

Many feature social media-worthy interior design, skincare and makeup products, and workout classes more friendly to women.

female only gym

Inside one such gym called YTWD. Image via Xiaohongshu

These ‘female gyms’ emerge as more women in China embrace workouts and fitness culture. Many female celebrities and influencers have also actively shared their workout routines on social media, encouraging even more women to get active.

According to a 2022 report from the Chinese fitness chain LeFit, 54% of their members identify as women, and they are overall more active than men. Moreover, female members are twice as likely to pay extra and hire personal trainers.

While women are becoming more visible in gyms that used to be dominated by men, there is also increasing concern over sexual harassment and ‘gymtimidation’ by zealous ‘fitness fanatics.’

“I think it’s a brilliant idea! I’ve encountered many men who always occupy the equipment in the gym, and sometimes they’re not even training, but just chatting or taking selfies of their muscles,” shared a female sports influencer.

However, some have also questioned whether these gyms are gender-inclusive for members of the queer and transgender communities. Policies almost certainly vary from gym to gym and in different regions. Still, RADII can report that one women-only fitness center we reached out to in the city of Fuzhou in southeastern China does welcome transgender women as patrons.

An additional beef highlighted by some netizens is that while many clubs label themselves as female-only, they only employ male fitness trainers. Nevertheless, women’s fitness clubs are still expanding across the country.

Cover image via Depositphotos

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