Women work out at the women-only gym Women's Fitness of Boston. Courtesy of Julie DiLeo.
When Julie DiLeo and her husband, Steve, took over the women-only gym Women’s Fitness of Boston, they knew they wanted to make some changes. First, they updated the fitness offerings and added some trendy workouts. Then they made sure they had knowledgeable instructors on hand. Later, they remodeled the showers. But there was one thing they wouldn’t change: the gym’s women-only status.
“This location has been a women’s gym for over 35 years. When taking over ownership in 2011, my husband and I valued the original owner’s concept and vision to provide a safe and comfortable environment for women to work out,” Julie says.
We spoke to Julie about her Boston fitness center and why women should consider switching to a women’s gym. Here’s what she had to say:
Julie DiLeo, personal trainer and owner of Women's Fitness of Boston, inside her gym. Courtesy of Julie DiLeo.
A safe, comfortable environment is not always found at a coed gym, where it’s not uncommon for women to have uncomfortable interactions with male members, whether that’s in the form of unwanted stares, unwanted advances, or simply unwanted advice on how to correct their form.
“This is not my personal experience, but several clients of the club have expressed that they transitioned to our club due to an experience like this,” Julie affirms.
A women-only gym like Women’s Fitness of Boston removes the male gaze, allowing women to focus purely on their workouts.
You might think that the workouts at a women-only gym wouldn’t be “tough enough,” but as Julie says, “it’s a common misconception.”
“Wherever you choose to work out, modifications should be made for the varying levels of fitness (or injury) to meet each individual’s needs/goals. This is not specific to gender,” Julie says.
“Our instructors offer modifications for participants who want an extra challenge in their workout routine and also for those who would like to level down for the day,” she adds. “We invite all women of all fitness levels to come try our classes and experience it first-hand, and/or meet with one of our personal trainers and challenge themselves to a workout.”
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“These workouts were designed to boost her EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) and keep her metabolism functioning for 24–72 hours, burn calories, and build overall core strength,” Julie explains.
“Healthy food and a balanced diet is not a punishment,” Julie says. “Find balance and enjoy delicious healthy meals and do workouts that you enjoy.”
Women’s gyms typically have all of the trappings you would find in a traditional coed gym, including a weight room and a wide array of cardio equipment. They usually have a variety of fitness classes, too. For instance, Women’s Fitness of Boston has more than a dozen offerings, everything from ballet Pilates to strength and conditioning classes. Julie’s personal favorite class is Power Flex 45, a muscle-building workout that she says not only strengthens muscles, but also burns fat and calories. “And it’s fun!”
A woman does suspension training at Women's Fitness of Boston. Courtesy of Julie DiLeo.
But it’s not just getting a good workout in sans men that attracts women to places like Women’s Fitness of Boston. “This setting provides a supportive community of like-minded women with similar health and wellness goals in mind,” Julie says.
She adds that a lot of women feel a strong sense of camaraderie at women-only gyms, explaining that her club in particular “is a forum for creating lifelong friendships, as well as a place to help get someone through a difficult time in life.”
The fitness instructors and staffers of Women’s Fitness of Boston feel it too. “A few weeks ago, a woman came in to visit the club that worked here 30 years ago. She just wanted to stop by and say hello. This is a special place and memories are created here,” Julie says.
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