Split workout space may cause gender separation


The Johnson Center boasts two separate fitness facilities: a cardio room on the first floor and a weight room in the basement. The separate fitness rooms allow for two different physical education classes, as opposed to the weight room gym class in previous years.

By Sydney Stoller, Managing Editor

A student pushes open the huge glass doors that mark the entrance to the new health and wellness center, walks past The Well café and turns left into the cardio room. Its floor-length windows and high ceilings present a stark contrast to its darker weight room counterpart in the basement of the same building.

The opening of the Walter Johnson Center for Health and Wellness brings new facilities for sports teams and health and physical education classes. The Johnson Center is equipped with both a weight room centered around strength training and a workout room that features cardio equipment, weight lifting machines, and a variety of free weights.

With the introduction of the two new gyms, comes a change to the physical education curriculum. Instead of “weight room” being one class that students sign up for, it will now be broken up into two separate classes, one for each room. Although this decision was made purely because of the placement of the two rooms- the cardio room is on the right side of the main floor and the weight room is on the left side of the lower level – it does prompt the question about gender segregation between the two rooms. In addition, because of the separation of the rooms, students must sign up for and work out in only one of them, rather than switching between the two. As well as raising the issue of the gender divide, this also presents the inconvenience of choosing between activities like running and exercises like benching.  

Weight lifting and training often bring to mind male athletes like The Rock, Mike Tyson, or LeBron James, rather than the equally strong Serena Williams or Ronda Rousey. The stereotype of men being stronger than women is entrenched in the culture of society. Coupled with male sporting events producing more revenue, this stereotype is why the pay gap between female and male athletes is only slowly and recently diminishing.

On the Hilltop, many students and faculty members have expressed concerns that the separation of the weight room will cause female students to become less enthusiastic about endurance training and other stereotypical weight lifting.

Coach Lisa Paverini, a trainer at the Hackley gym along with Coach Sam Patierno, talked about the attendance of male students in the cardio room, where she has worked throughout the first week of the opening of the Health and Wellness Center. In the remainder of the year, however, Coach Paverini will be stationed in the weight room in order to encourage female attendance.

She described the declining number of male students in the room by saying how on the first day “we had probably about five or six guys in here and maybe just as many girls, and then the second we had maybe three,” and by the end of the week, “we only had one guy the whole time.”

As a result of this, Coach Lisa said that “it does look like more girls are going to be utilizing this room and the guys kind of are more interested in going down to the weight room.”

The coaches have acknowledged this issue of gender separation and have proposed the solution of stationing both coaches in the weight room and hiring someone else to supervise the cardio room. Coach Lisa predicts that many of the girls will feel more comfortable in the weight lifting gym if she is down there as well.

The coach added, “If they [the female students] have somebody to help them and show them what to do, I think they [will] feel a little less intimidated.”

Junior Isla Parton is one of the few girls who prefers the weight room over the cardio room. She agrees with Coach Lisa and credits her with her newfound interest in deadlifting and cleans. She adds that “The weight room should be an inviting place for all genders to comfortably try the range of machines that aren’t available in the cardio room.”  

The staff working at the athletic center expressed the importance of gender equality in both the weight room and cardio room.  It can be beneficial to supplement lifting exercises with bodyweight movements, so attending both rooms is one way to maintain a balanced work out regimen.

The new athletic center gifted the Hackley community with incredible new facilities. Although the division of the weight and cardio room initially presented an unwanted gender separation, the coaching staff may implement new changes to ensure participation of both female and male students in the weight and cardio rooms.