On October 31st, the clocks went back, which means we’re officially saying farewell to Autumn and a begrudging hello to Winter. This season isn’t just about woolly coats, defrosting our hands on a cup hot chocolate and Christmas markets.
It also brings shorter days, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and for many women, unease at travelling in the dark.
If you’re someone who goes to the gym, it can be pretty tough as is, especially if you suffer from gym anxiety - or anxiety in general. However, getting safely to and from your exercise class is something else we need to factor into our routines.
Travelling in the dark has always been a cause of concern for women. I’m sure we’re all familiar with friends telling us ‘Let me know when your home’ after a day out. It’s almost second nature to worry.
If you find yourself having concerns about being safe in winter and working out, keep reading.
Upon searching The Student Room forums (TSR), I found the majority of women in the discussions expressed they didn’t feel comfortable walking at night and avoided it where possible [i].
One particular forum highlighted how the latest spike in violence against women was leaving women fearful to venture out their houses at night. Murders of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa, Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman have caused a wave of horror to ripple through the nation [ii].
News of women being spiked via injections in clubs throughout the UK has also added to the fear of women being targeted.
All these awful happenings paired with the fear of going out late at night has left a lot of women feeling helpless and unsafe. Because of this, many women are altering their routines in order to avoid being caught up in a dangerous situation. For many, that includes changing how we exercise.
One user on TSR noted:
‘I used to run at night at ten at night and I wouldn't do that now, I used to always go for late night runs. I did it a few weeks ago it was completely quiet, I wasn't far from my house, I knew the route but I didn't feel like I should be out running this late’ [iii].
From my own experiences, I too am apprehensive about embarking on a trip to the gym at 6/7pm, and because of this I’ll be changing how I work out for the Winter season.
WHAT CAN WE DO
If you find yourself in the bracket of people that rely on gym equipment for your fitness goals, there are a few ways you can keep yourself safe whilst travelling to your fitness class.
Going to the gym can often feel like a trek, even outside of the colder darker months, but especially during Winter. Why not see if there’s a closer alternative to you?
Whether it’s going to the gym, going for a run or doing a fitness class together, things always feel better with a friend.
INFORM SOMEONE OF YOUR LOCATION
Have at least one person who knows your location if you’re getting home late by yourself. You can do this by sending your live location to someone you trust on WhatsApp. I tend to call someone if I find myself walking home late. This way I feel less alone and can enjoy a good catch up.
ADJUST YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE FOR WINTER
Winter doesn’t mean abolishing your workout routine; why not try juggling things around? Instead of going for a run in the evening, why not try going in the morning? If you find this doesn’t work for your schedule, you can always substitute a run for other things, like cycling or a home workout. This way you don’t have to neglect your desire to work out or compromise your safety.
REMOTE CLASSES/HOME WORKOUTS
If you feel unsafe travelling to and from the gym and find it an unrealistic venture for you, that’s ok. Going to the gym doesn’t have to be all, end all. Instead, you can find great workouts that keep you active the comfort of your own home. Check out our blog for HIIT workout inspo and equipment you need for home workouts.
It is an unfair reality we live in to have to consider our safety before going about our daily routine; but it is one that is necessary in the world we live in. I love late nights and evenings, and find it calming to walk around after the sun has set. I’ve found I can’t enjoy it the way I should be able to because I’ve put my safety before my leisure.
Female safety is a growing concern every single day. It’s important to note that despite being safe, these precautions cannot always protect us because we are not the main perpetrators of violence against women.
Whilst we do as much as we can, the narrative remains the same and the spotlight is put on females. Walk in groups, don’t go out late, take a well-lit path. As much as this advice is well meaning and logical, it’s lazy and assuming. A woman can do everything right and still find herself in trouble.
Women are not just in danger at night, or with strangers. The truth is we can be in danger at any moment. Rather, we need to flip the conversation and find the root of why so many people are hurting innocent women.
However, that being said, that doesn’t mean we should stop doing things we love. One user on TSR noted:
‘At the end of the day we shouldn’t have to hide ourselves away from those people who do this’ [iii].
For example, I still enjoy late-night walks, but for the majority of time it tends to be with friends.
You deserve to live your life and engage in things you love, so don’t put your goals on hold. Instead, find a way around the barriers so you can continue on your journey in a safe way.