Rock-Slide: Developing an Indoor Climbing Volume with a Linearly Actuating Hold; Masculine Design Of Weightlifting Technologies And Exercise Spaces Contribute To Gender Bias In Gyms

Borden, Alexa, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Forelle, MC, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Garner, Gavin, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia

Within this portfolio, both the Technical Report and STS Research Paper consist of projects that focus on making climbing and weightlifting more engaging. For my capstone project, my team and I built a mechanism that could move a climbing hold in a linear motion back and forth while a person was hanging on it. The internal moving parts were designed to fit within the empty area of a climbing volume. The front face of our trapezoidal design had a slot where the climbing hold moves back and forth. My STS research paper considers how the design of weightlifting equipment and gyms spaces primarily regard a male audience and thus perpetuate a masculine environment. To analyze this subject, I compared select equipment at the four University of Virginia (UVA) gyms to the average body dimensions of males and females. Through this research, I found that many machines are accessible to most people. However, some of the equipment used for more stereotypically male exercises such as pull up bars, tricep dip bars, and the lat pulldown machines have design features that favor the average male body. This discrepancy can have negative implications for women trying to engage in weightlifting. Additionally in this paper, I analyzed the space itself and how the layout of gym equipment can make accessing certain machines more intimidating. Through this research, I was able to conclude that the design of certain weightlifting equipment and gym spaces generally favors male lifters.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
weightlifting, climbing, gender bias
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