Photo by Nina Bayatti/The Gazelle

Women's Only Gym provides safe space for exercise

Photo by Nina Bayatti/The Gazelle NYUAD Athletics opened a gym exclusively for women in Sama Tower on Sunday, April 7. Inside room 2003, a former ...

Apr 12, 2013

Photo by Nina Bayatti/The Gazelle
NYUAD Athletics opened a gym exclusively for women in Sama Tower on Sunday, April 7. Inside room 2003, a former two-bedroom apartment converted into a gym, a small makeshift reception desk overlooks two treadmills and two ellipticals in a lavender room.
Stan Long, Associate Director of Fitness and Wellness, was a key organizer of the development of the Women’s Only Gym. The project took about one year of planning. Long was involved in the behind-the-scenes process of the approval procedure, equipment orders and location request.
Long was inspired to find a way to accommodate the female students and faculty who felt that the women-only hours in the fourth floor co-ed gym were not sufficient.
“I kept trying to change dates and times to accommodate them,” Long said. “After a while it became kind of obvious that we weren’t meeting the demand during the peak hours, so I started working with [Human Resources]. Last year I actually tried to look for a space.”
Freshman Samia Ahmed is appreciative of the new space and prefers it to the original women-only hours on the fourth floor.
“As a Muslim girl who covers, I really appreciate the opening of a women-only gym facility,” Ahmed said. “The new gym provides us with a safe and convenient environment conducive to better fitness and general health.”
As a result of the Women’s Only Gym, the fourth floor gym will no longer hold women-only hours. But, there will still be exercise classes that cater only to women.
“As far as being able to come in and just do cardio or just do lightweights,” Long said as he walks through the newly painted gym, “this is a great place to do that.”
The gym includes three rooms of workout equipment including a small weight room with machines to work the arms, legs, chest and back, in addition to a set of lightweights.
Fitness Center intern and junior Lan Duong said she has already received positive feedback.
“Girls love the fact there’s a shower and they offer great advice on what equipment we could add or transfer from the fourth floor Fitness Center,” she said.
The gym is open to all female students and faculty and includes a private bathroom with a shower — this is unique from the fourth floor gym, which does not have showers.
In terms of using the gym herself, Duong admitted, “I currently use the coed gym for three functions: interning for the department, playing and helping to teach Capoeira and working out on my own. I cannot do the first two in the women's gym since I need to interact with male coworkers, supervisors and Capoeiristas. Fitness for me is an inherently social activity and the coed gym's hours of operation are also more convenient.”
Freshman Megan Vincent was quick to visit the newly opened gym and appreciated the quiet space for working out. She has been twice since it opened a week ago.
The gym’s intimate setting offers a comfortable atmosphere for women like Vincent, who appreciates that the space is quiet and private and that the staff is always smiling.
“It really encourages girls who are new to working out to come along because it's a really private environment,” Vincent said. “It's nice to not be seen by millions when you're ridiculously red and sweaty."
While students can have personal training sessions in the Women’s Only Gym, Long says a female security staff member will be sitting at the reception desk. Female personal trainers will be available in the gym upon request.
The Women’s Only Gym is confined to a small space within Sama Tower and lacks the variety of equipment available in the fourth floor fitness center, but Long is hopeful for the expansion of his project on the Saadiyat campus.
“Now we are included in the larger plan,” Long said. “This is the springboard for that.”
When asked if there are any requests to make a men-only gym, Long responded, “we joke about it, but no, nothing has been said.”
The Women’s Only Gym is open Sunday through Thursday 7 to 9 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, the gym is open noon to 6 p.m.
Nina Bayatti is managing editor. Email her at
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