Inclusive Gym Initiative
All students at the University of Winnipeg pay a fitness centre fee of $39.50 per academic year and a RecPlex fee of $31.60 per term (up to $94.80 per academic year). However, many women, non-binary people, and other marginalized students have expressed that they do not feel comfortable using UW’s fitness facilities.
Our goal is to promote safer spaces and equitable participation for all U of W students who pay for these services.
Several Canadian universities have implemented women’s only gym times as a way to ensure greater access to physical activity for female students. We launched this initiative at the University of Winnipeg to see if UWinnipeg students would benefit from gym times, fitness classes, or intramurals reserved for women and non-binary people. These are only the first steps towards making our gym and our campus more welcoming for all of us, including students who are marginalized in other ways.
In August 2016, we launched a survey conducted by the Board of Directors, with assistance from Dr. Pauline Greenhill, managers of UW Fitness & Recreation Services, and various UW students to gather feedback from U of W students and the surrounding community about this initiative. It was live until October 21, 2016, and publicized here and through news media, classroom visits, and hallway tabling throughout the entirety of its duration.
Survey Results & Recommendations:
Seven-hundred and fifty-six people responded to the survey. The full survey report is available here: Inclusive Gym Initiative – Survey Results
From the survey results, the Inclusive Gym Initiative working group developed six recommendations to present to the University of Winnipeg.
Here are the recommendations:
- Implement reserved gym hours for people who identify as (cis or trans) women or as non-binary
- Reserve one floor of the gym for these reserved times and alternate the floor.
- Implement reserved hours 3–4 times per week, at 2–3 hours at a time.
- If possible, balance reserved gym time in a way that accommodates students who only have classes on M/W/F or Tues/Thurs.
- Ensure window coverings (such as blinds or frosted glass) are in place for these reserved hours.
- Create a Code of Conduct specifically for gym users (students, faculty, and community members) and staff.
- Ensure staff are properly trained regarding issues women, trans people, non-binary people, and people with disabilities may face when accessing the UW fitness facilities.
- Implement and publicize a regular (monthly?), free orientation session for any students wanting to learn how to properly use equipment in the Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre, rather than teaching equipment use on an individual, ad-hoc basis.
- Add signage for non-binary identified people on both the male and female change room doors.
- Design and distribute a pamphlet for the gym highlighting available services, including reserved gym time, the code of conduct, the location of the non-binary washroom in the RecPlex, the gym’s accessibility, etc. Include this pamphlet in first-year student orientation packages.
- Ensure future photographs used for promotion of UW fitness facilities represent a wide range of bodies, genders, (dis)ability, and racialized backgrounds.
The U of W gym managers have warmly received these recommendations and the working group continues to work with the university to implement these recommendations.
In January 2017, the university announced they will begin a pilot project in September 2017 offering specific gym time to female and non-binary students. Read the full article here.
If you have any questions regarding the Inclusive Gym Initiative or would like to get involved, please email Jacq Pelland, LGBT* Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jade DeFehr, Status of Women Director, at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions:
We’ve developed a list of answers to frequently asked questions about the initiative: Inclusive Gym Initiative – FAQs
Check out our news release supporting UWinnipeg’s pilot project: UWSA supports UWinnipeg’s new pilot project for reserved gym time for women-identified and non-binary folks
Find the Inclusive Gym Initiative on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/250015765355763/