I suppose we could debate that question and come up with some persuasive arguments either way. But the bottom line is that as the laws are written, any form of discrimination is illegal (and thus punishable). For that reason, we have removed the signs from our upstairs weight room that reserve its use for women.
Below is a copy of the letter that we’ve posted that explains the entire situation:
CALIFORNIA COURTS RULE THAT “WOMEN ONLY” WORKOUT AREAS ARE DISCIMINATORY
Unfortunately we have been forced to remove our signs that reserve use of this room for women only. An anonymous member (actually a wife and her husband) has threatened us with a lawsuit, and after investigating the matter, it appears that current California laws would not support our position.
It has always been our goal to provide an atmosphere where people of all ages and genders would feel comfortable. Because many women have never used exercise machines and are intimidated by a busy coed weight room, we felt that offering this small, sheltered area would allow more women to get involved with exercise.
It seemed to us like this was a win-win situation. Women who felt more comfortable working out with some privacy were able to do so. It also kept some of these “exercise novices” from slowing things up in the main weight room. There was nothing in the room that wasn’t available elsewhere in the Club, so it was difficult for us to see how anyone was being hurt by this.
We wish that we could have discussed these issues with the aforementioned members, but they were unwilling to sign their complaint. Are “women only” areas discriminatory? Maybe so. But wouldn’t the benefits (getting more people to exercise) seem to outweigh any perceived damages?
Our trade association supports “women only” workout areas, and several states around the country have put laws on the books that allow them. But until California chooses to address this issue, we’re bound by the existing statutes. So for the time being, we will be changing this room to a space reserved for “novice exercisers”.
We are hopeful that we can develop a list of rules and policies for this area that will help it retain its current feel, and that it will function in much the same way it always has. Thanks in advance for your understanding.
HeathQuest Fitness Center