Female personal trainer shares abusive messages she receives from men on social media
"He asked if I offered any extras. I didn't reply, and then he came back asking if I offered naked coaching."
A personal trainer from London has shared some of the creepy messages she receives from men on social media.
Lauren Hatton, 26, has been involved in the fitness industry for five years. Working on the gym floor, and these days online, she has seen the best and worst behaviour imaginable.
Last week, what started out as an innocuous exchange on her personal training platform soon took an offensive turn.
"I received a friend request to my business account, which I accepted as people often enquire about online coaching.
"He looked like a normal guy and asked about personal training. I told him I wasn't offering anything until gyms reopened, which is when he messaged me on my personal account.
"He was persistent - it felt like he was harassing me online."
Lauren said the conversation soon became inappropriate.
"I told him how much my plans would cost, and what they would entail. He said he wanted to start as soon as possible.
"He then said 'Are you married?' which was a very personal question. I thought, 'Why would you need to ask me that?'
"Then he asked if I offered any extras. I didn't reply, and then he came back asking if I offered naked coaching."
"I was surprised at first. I was just trying to do my job and it felt violating to get those messages."
The fact he found her personal profile was even more concerning.
"It was worrying. Was he trying to do more or find out my location?
"I have brothers and they've taught me to never put my exact location on social media. So, I just say I'm London-based."
And it wasn't just the messages that Lauren found disturbing. When she reposted them to her Instagram story, she was surprised by the disparity in the replies she received.
"Do you know what was really sad? The majority of women that responded were horrified. But the majority of men laughed, mocked it and sent messages like 'Did you not take it? Has he not offered you enough money?'"
Lauren has now taken steps to deter abusive behaviour on social media.
"I've put a post up on my pages saying I'll only respond to potential fitness clients, and this is because I get so many messages from men saying things like 'You're fit as f**k', which is really aggressive.
"Another guy out of nowhere said 'You've got lovely feet. Show me your feet'. And kept sending the same message again and again until I blocked him."
She has also experienced similar behaviour in her time spent on the gym floor. Both Lauren and her twin sister Robyn have competed in bodybuilding.
"There was a guy who was using the machine next to me. He kept positioning his phone sideways which made it obvious he was taking pictures of me.
"I told the duty manager he was taking photos of me, and possibly other girls, and he was eventually banned.
"In another place I worked at, there was a cross-trainer by the women's changing rooms. Every single evening, the same man would go on it and lean back so he could see into the women's changing rooms. In the end, we had to ban him from coming in."
Problematic behaviour in the gym extends to intimidation, too.
"I have nieces who just don't go to the gym because they don't like it. They think it's full of men going around in groups.
"I've had men point and stare at me like that, it makes you feel inferior - like you're just an object.
"Some guys will hover over you in the weights area as well, as if to say 'You shouldn't be here if you're not built like a brick s**thouse.'"
Lauren is now asking men to reconsider the way they treat women, both online and in the gym.
"I think it's about being conscious of your actions and your words. It's not about being over the top with it, but just having manners.
"Don't approach people and tell them they're doing an exercise wrong first. It's about consent.
"Just treat women how you would want your daughters, sisters and mum to be treated."