The concept has existed since the early 2000s but is struggling to find its place, sports halls reserved for women are nevertheless regaining ground in Normandy. A new room opens in Alençon in the Orne to allow training without worrying about looks.
Franchises are struggling to stay open in this niche: 100% female gyms are not necessarily successful. Curves has closed its rooms in Petit-Quevilly or Hérouville-st-Clair, the same scenario for Lady Fitness in Rouen or Lady Mooving in Bayeux. But some structures still resist and attract. New concepts are also emerging.
After a career as a management assistant in a company, Fatima Fanouillet decided to pass her BPJEPS diploma in order to be able to give group lessons and specialize in bodybuilding and weightlifting. Small originality, it is to women that she will teach. It is a choice that it claims to allow licensees to take full advantage of a sport without worrying about the gaze of men. His room, FF Studio, will open its doors in Alençon in the Orne.
« The idea came to me when I had my children, 30 kilos per pregnancy! When I went back to the gym, I felt the stares and the criticism ».
I said to myself « I never want that again, I put myself in the head of those who live that all the time! »Fatima Fanouillet – manager of FF Studio in Alençon
This manager has invested more than 250,000 euros in this new room which opens its doors on September 19, 2022. The sports coach will give lessons in muscle strengthening, fitness, stretching, zumba and within 3 years, she hopes to be able to invest in machines to install a real weight room. She already receives calls from motivated women, but on social networks, some criticize her approach, she explains it without complex.
It was feminists who explained to me that with this room we are going backwards, it is not defending women’s rights. I don’t see how I’m going against our rights, it’s something that comes on top!
Lady Fitness is a room that resists! Opened 22 years ago by a businesswoman, Corinne Fleury, this 100% feminine structure has found its rhythm. Between 500 and 600 members are faithful to these courses adapted to their specific needs. « The classes are tailor-made, we don’t have quite the same needs as men. For example, push-ups, for women it’s more difficult, on the other hand: we will work more on the glutes ».
There are many women who do not want to be bothered, others who need to be quiet, less watched! A sports club is a meeting place like any other, but for some women, it’s embarrassing. You have to dare to sweat, wiggle your hips to a zumba tune… some women do it better without a male gaze around them.Corinne Fleury
Creator and manager of Lady Fitness
A female-only gym
©Bérangère Dunglas / France Televisions
The recipe for success of this independent room is also the installation of a broader beauty and cocooning concept. There are massage services, beauty treatments, hair salon, sessions with an osteopath. For the entrepreneur, it’s a good way to stand out and continue to operate well where other franchises have already closed their doors.
Another alternative to better include all women, some clubs offer a dedicated room. This is the case at L’Arène, located in the Rouen metropolitan area. Since 2019, this independent structure has made a 400 m2 room available to women in its Petit-Quevilly club. « We organized ourselves like that, because there is demand, especially for women of Muslim culture, for whom mixing is tricky. »
This 100% women’s room is equipped with the same machines as in the mixed room, except for the free weights since the floor is not suitable. There are guided machines, and cardio. Women use machines more to work the lower body, rather than building the upper body. There is really a demand for these rooms!Anthony Carpentier – Arena manager
Proof that the formula works, this company also provides a room for women in its new club located in Rouen and open for the start of the 2022 school year.