Petition calls for women-only Montreal gym to reconsider allowing men

image.jpg

A member of a women-only gym in Montreal’s Rosemont neighbourhood has launched a petition to block a decision to allow men to start training there.

Marie-Hélène Gauthier says the Éconofitness Extra au Féminin decided to open its doors to men without consulting the members.

Gauthier notes the gym, on Masson Street, has been open for several years, allowing women to train in peace.

“Public spaces where women from all walks of life can meet and feel comfortable in their bodies are very rare,” she writes.

“We will have to travel farther if we want to only train among women.”

Gauthier calls losing the facility a loss for “all women in the neighbourhood.”

The gym’s website confirms that starting Dec. 20, it will become accessible to both men and women. It will also be open 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

Some women outside the gym on Monday said they may consider finding a new place to work out. 

"At first, I was like yeah im not gona keep coming if its going to turn into a regular gym, but then it's just around the corner and the closest one are kinda very far away... so I dont know, I dont know what I will do but I'm not super happy with their decision," said gym member Marie-Frederique Gagnon.

The petition calling on the gym to remain women-only has 125 signatures, but some welcome sharing it with men, given the extended hours. 

"For me the tradeoff of a 24 hour gym was much better than a women-only gym... But i can understand that's not for everybody," said gym member Jordanne Erichsen.

Others say the gym is too small for an increase in clientele. 

"Unfortunately, more people now, it's just gonna be more tight... There's one bench press machine, there's one squat machine, there's one of everything and i just feel it's going to be a little cramped for what it needs to be," said gym member Bianca Petri. 

A vice-president at Econo-fitness said the area needed a co-ed gym, but initially the company wanted to open one at a new location, but there was no space available. 

The vice-president also said Econofitness operates other women-only gyms nearby. The closest one is 3.5 kilometres away.

With files from CTV News Montreal's Andrew Brennan.