Canterbury Uni students divided over women-only gym hours

Better when it's just ladies? The University of Canterbury is trialling women only hours at its recreation centre.
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Better when it's just ladies? The University of Canterbury is trialling women only hours at its recreation centre.

Awesome, or sexist?

Canterbury University students are divided over "women only" hours and areas at their campus gym. 

The university is trialling the initiative at its recreation centre. Between Monday and Saturday, at scheduled times, women can work out in a man-free gym area and attend women-only classes. 

Students' Association president James Addington says the trial is "'awesome".
DEAN KOZANIC/FAIRFAX NZ

Students' Association president James Addington says the trial is "'awesome".

Student Farreeha Ali supported the initiative. As a Muslim, with "certain limitations to dress code for exercises", she could enjoy "confidence and freedom" in her spare time. 

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Timothy Hodgson said the initiative was controversial, and excluded men from using parts of the gym during popular hours.

From 1-3pm was a "convenient time for students to go [to the gym] after lectures", he said. On three days a week during that time, some areas of the gym were out of bounds to men.

Adam Scott was against the trial.

"If male-only hours of anything were created within [university] there would be a huge outcry about how sexist it was."

A university spokeswoman said the aim was to meet cultural needs "based on academic research".

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The university started the trial after receiving a request from a student advisory group more than four months ago, she said. 

It started on July 25.

The spokeswoman said the hours took up "less than 20 per cent of the entire time" the gym was open. 

Access was not restricted to specific equipment. It was available in other areas of the gym, she said.

Before to the trial, space tended to be gender-segregated, she said. 

The weights room was dominated by men, while the cardio equipment was widely used by women.

It wasn't clear what the changes would mean for transgender students, but the spokeswoman said it would be "looked into". 

University of Canterbury Students' Association president James Addington said the trial was "awesome". 

He hoped it would create a space that "women would feel comfortable in".

The initiative would be evaluated at the end of 2016, to determine whether it would be made permanent. 

 - Stuff

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