State Supreme Court considering if women-only workout areas at local gyms are sexist

Connecticut

Conn. (WTNH) — The State Supreme Court is hearing an appeal on women’s only workout areas at local gyms after two men filed suit saying separate spaces are sexist.

The case could have implications for everything from religious freedom to transgender rights.

News 8 viewers have been weighing in on women’s only workout spaces. 

One viewer writes, “It makes a lot of women more comfortable and less intimidated.”

Another wrote, “I find myself struggling with the message this portrays…women for years have fought to be treated as equals.”

News 8 spoke with Kyle Marchetti, owner of popular Armstrong Athletic Center in West Haven.

“We’re just an old school gym,” said Marchetti, “Iron weights, old school equipment.”

On a Wednesday afternoon his clientele was mostly fit, muscular men.

“Most of the time the male to female ratio in a gym is mostly male,” said Marchetti

When his female customers do come in, Marchetti wants to make sure they feel welcome. He plans to eventually expand the gym and is considering including a women’s only workout space like some other facilities.

“If that’s where [female clients] feel comfortable, they should be able to workout, one hundred percent,” said Marchetti.

But that might not legally be an option, depending on the outcome of a case now being heard by the Connecticut’s highest court. The state is suing Edge and Club Fitness in Bloomfield on behalf of two men claiming women-only workout areas discriminate against the opposite sex.

In arguments today, justices grappled with many of the same questions our viewers had.

“That’s basically the undercurrent of what this case is about. That men cannot be trusted to control themselves, their urges, their impulses,” posed Associate Justice Andrew McDonald.

“So a woman who feels like she is being looked at in an unwelcome way and ogled by some sweaty guy six feet away she needs to make a complaint about that and earn an enemy in the gym and go through that kind of nonsense? Rather than just have a separate room that allows her to proceed and him to proceed?”  asked Associate Justice Steven D. Ecker.

On our News 8 Facebook page,  Shelby Naples writes “I need to feel safe and not have someone watching me or recording me.”

But James Norrie writes “Either we are equal or we’re separate. It’s really that simple.”

Back at the bench press-, Marchetti says he’s noticed a gap in etiquette at other gyms when women work out. Specifically, “The staring. I’m not going to lie,” he said.

The question gym owners are faced with–how best to solve it.

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