Kristine E. Newhall’s 2013 dissertation looks at gender barriers in gyms and how space impacts use across gender. She writes:
I discuss the pleasures gained as well as anxieties women had about using both traditional and non-traditional gendered gym spaces. Women’s fitness regimens comprise part of their identities, in and outside the gym. In fitness spaces women earned social, cultural, and physical capital based on their fitness abilities, physiques, and fitness knowledge. These rewards were available to all women in all fitness spaces but the amount of capital accumulation varied depending on age, race, sexuality, ability and which fitness spaces they accessed and for what purpose.
Looking at three Massachusetts-based gyms, Newhall traces the use and disuse of gym space and its consequences for women’s fitness, who owns it and who shapes it.
Kristine E. Newhall. “Is this working out?: a spatial analysis of women in the gym.” PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2013.