By curator, Lindsey Kukunda
When feminist Mildred Apenyo started Uganda’s first women’s only gym FitClique, I heard quite a number of grumbles about the oddness of having a gym dedicated to making one sex comfortable. I want to tell you a story to explain why I for one think it was long overdue.
I was a resident in Speke Hotel Munyonyo for a week and could not use their gym even once because my clothes were deemed inappropriate. I’m not complaining. The story really is quite funny. When I trotted into their gym I was wearing an outfit similar to the one below but had a tank top instead of a crop top.
Minus the beer
A manager told me it was against their dress codes for women and I had to wear a full top and he mumbled something about proper exercising shorts. Okay. So I went back to my hotel room, donned my bikini and spent two hours lounging by the pool which is located directly in front of the gym. I want you to dig this, please. Everyone inside the gym could see us swans outside and we could see the muscular men and ‘fully dressed’ women exercising inside.
I was wearing these proper shorts outside
After that I asked for the changing rooms. I want you to dig this again: It turns out the changing rooms are located inside the gym!
So I, and every man, woman and child swimming or sauna-ing had to walk through the gym, more naked than the exercisers, endure their appreciative or nonchalant stares to get to the changing rooms.
I’m not even going to try to make sense of that
I just hope you can see why sometimes we want to cut through all the bullcrap and have a safe space where we’re not told that our bodies are a source of discomfort for other patrons