Many Americans rejoiced when the CDCannounced that, for the fully vaccinated, face masks could be discarded. While a majority felt elated at this news, for others, masks have worked as a protection not only from a deadly airborne disease, but also from the unwanted attention of strangers. Indeed, many women have reported that they will continue to wear face masks when out in public, happy with the anonymity they provide.

And when it comes to working out, although studies have shown that wearing a mask won’t make you pass out and are not detrimental to health, they can make it a less pleasant experience overall. Most people chose to ditch them for exercise, and for women, this meant not being able to exercise incognito. A study of 1,300 women by BarBend.com to evaluate the breadth of pervasive harassment when working out over the past year, found that women in Maryland have been catcalled or heckled an average of 2 times per work out. 

Infographic map showing workout harassment by state

The negative effect of this kind of harassment is further highlighted in the majority (93%) of womenwho say their performance intensity is negatively impacted by unwanted attention. In fact, more than half say they have changed the way they dress to avoid harassment.

Ever experienced an interruption from another gym-goer while minding your own business, who wishes to share their opinion on your training routine? Turns out more than 3 in 4 (76%) women say this has been the case, and that they’ve received unsolicited training advice and guidance when exercising.

Moreover, the study found that 3 out of 5 women (63%) have actually altered their training schedules to avoid harassment. During the pandemic, this could have meant running different routes or working out at different times.


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