GENEVIEVE PFISTER, Staff Writer—On a cool Wednesday night, as the last male athletes headed home, the Mitchell Center’s Crown Fitness Center opened its doors exclusively to the women of Denison. 

While all students are welcome to use Denison’s workout space during normal operating hours, a new triweekly, 45 minute period dubbed ‘Women’s Hour’ was designed to offer “an opportunity for all women to try, learn, and master the gym without any pressure,” according to the event flyer.

 The program, which began March 8 and occurs every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, gives attendees socially-distanced access to a myriad of different machines in the facility, from stationary bicycles and ellipticals to treadmills and muscle-strengthening equipment. 

Freshmen Talia Raider-Roth and Olivia Snyder were two attendants of the Women’s Hour on Wednesday, March 10. Neither are heavily involved in sports at Denison so this was their first time using the fitness center.

 “Every day I would walk past the fitness center and think ‘Oh, I would really love to go in there, but I’m afraid’,” said Snyder.

 She said she worried men in the gym would stereotype women who did not know how to use the equipment as ‘weak.’ Raider-Roth agreed and mentioned that from her point of view, the gym has become a very “gendered” environment.

 “I think there’s a lot of stigma around women not knowing how to work out or looking silly,” she said “It’s stereotypical, but as a woman, you feel uncomfortable wearing tight clothes and working out in front of men.” 

Raider-Roth and Snyder stressed the importance of having a “safe space,” free from judgement, where women can learn how to work out, and they praised the Women’s Hour as an effort to do just that. Both enjoyed their first Women’s Hour, and intend to visit Mitchell more often. 

In the future, Raider-Roth hopes that Denison will supplement the Women’s Hour with education or guidance on how to use the machines in the center specifically for women who, like her, do not use the gym regularly and are not familiar with much of the equipment.Denison’s Women Hour is held in the Crown Fitness Center every Monday and Wednesday from 8:15 – 9:00 P.M., and every Saturday from 12:00 – 12:45 P.M. Students can sign up for a time slot through Acuity Scheduling at