Embracing “My Men": Unexpected Gym Friendships


by Tiffany Griggs

Life sure has its twists and turns.


First off, for most women, to walk into "that part" of the gym takes a great amount of courage.  The part where they have all the heavy weights and machines. The part where there usually are mostly men in sweaty tank tops and loud grunting. The room full of testosterone, but you finally did it!!  Women usually find our way around the dumbbells and squat racks eventually. Imagine finally getting used to your gym, your routine, and your gym partners, but then life throws you a twist and turn.

This is my story of starting over and learning to embrace the men.  I was used to my large busy gym and the men I could talk to and could not. The ones that I would avoid eye contact or wear my hat pulled down low, for fear of being hit on or bothered. You know the “Bros”. (I'm married with 2 kids by the way). I was comfortable with waving at the few women from across the room. Suddenly my family and I were moved 3 states away. Everything fell into place with the move, jobs, schools, sports, and housing.  The only part that I had to find once I got there was a gym, my happy place.


It was time to find a new gym, in my new small southern town. For convenience, I chose a small 24 hour gym close to home. It had most of the equipment that I needed.  I struggled my first few months to find my rhythm. I struggled with not having any females join me on that side of the room. I struggled with all the men!  But I was there to work so I continued on, headphones in and my hustle on.  It was lonely and I felt my lifts were lacking, but one day I decided to join them. It wasn't going to change. I had invited several women from the treadmills to join me but none would. I eventually became friends with these men. Instead of meeting my girlfriends for coffee, I met my men friends at the gym in the mornings.

Of course they all think I'm crazy, and I work too hard. I have too many leg days and don't lift chest enough, but we have become friends. I have taught them to squat in the squat rack with good form and they in turn push me to lift heavier than I think I can. They spot me to keep me safe, and do cardio with me. They work in with me on my lifts.  I have found true workout buddies and without having to avoid eye contact. The city councilman, retired government worker, firefighter, restaurant owner, and young working dad, are now my friends.  I have earned their respect by working hard and they mine by being so genuinely friendly and supportive.


But one day after practicing posing for a physique competition, I knew they had fully accepted me. There were lots of questions about what I was doing and why.  Over the next few weeks “my men” continued to support me by calling people they knew to ask for help for me.  Even though they know nothing about this sport, they cheer me on in every aspect.  Every so often they ask when the big day is so they can cheer me on.  I have truly found great friendship in these men.

I'm so glad I embraced my men.