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Paying For Pink: Is It Worth It To Buy Fit Gear Designed For Women?

Posted Jul 12 2012 1:39am

They forgot one: AND not ever possess anything pink. Unless it’s wrapped in bacon.

The other day I headed into the local sporting goods store to buy some boxing gloves (it’s about time – I’ve been using the public ones at the gym and those smell so badly that I have to put latex gloves on underneath or I’ll smell like skunk for weeks) and as I checked out all the varieties, I noticed something interesting: despite being smaller, all the women’s gloves were more expensive. I couldn’t see any difference between the women’s gloves and the small men’s gloves so I asked a sales associate. His answer? “You’re paying for the pink.” This irritated me, and not just because I don’t love pink and I hate that everything marketed to women has to be pinkpinkpink.  I was also irked because I wanted the yellow gloves and those too cost more money.

Some fitness items like sports bras are uniquely female* but having two X chromosomes doesn’t necessarily mean we like everything to be pink. (I don’t hate pink but I also don’t need all my gear pink either. I know I’m a girl and I’m not going to forget it if my jump rope has blue handles.) With so many new fitness products being targeted directly to women, is it worth buying the girly version? Especially if it costs more? As I sit here typing while wearing a pink fitness watch, I try and break it down for you:

Weight Gloves

Men have bigger hands so you’d think their larger weight gloves would cost more but generally the opposite is true. For instance, with the most basic brand a plain black unisex pair costs $9.99 but stamp a cutesy logo on them and turn them pink and now they cost $14.39. This is true even with fancier gloves. One of the most popular brands offers their “pro” men’s gloves for a full $10 cheaper than the pink “pro” women’s variety.

Worth it? Unless you have extremely small hands or just really like pink, there is no advantage to buying the girly version.


A kettlebell is an iron weight with a handle. It doesn’t get any simpler when it comes to fitness tools. Aside from choosing different weights, there isn’t anything that would be different about a “women’s kettlebell.” And yet one premier kettlebell maker sells a plain black 18-lb bell for $44.95. The pink version? $55.95!

Worth it? Kettlebells are supposed to be hardcore. Rock the black color and save the $11 for a bright workout top!

Heart rate monitor/GPS

Heart rate monitors are designed to measure how fast your heart is beating during exercise so you can monitor how hard you are working. Fancier models do everything from monitor your movement to track your calories to map your run with GPS so they’re definitely a handy tool. Yet the Polar F4 men’s monitor is $66.26 on Amazon but the Polar F4 women’s pink and purple monitor is $71.77. A quick look at the Polar website shows that they offer exactly the same features, functionality and are even the same size. The only difference is the color.

Worth it? Women typically have smaller wrists and rib cages so buying a girly model might make sense if you need the smaller sizing. But in cases like this where the male and female version are the same, you really are just paying for the cute colors. Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to be cute, I just want you to know exactly what you’re getting.

Protein Powder

At first glance, protein powders customized for women seem like a good idea – boys and girls are different, right? – and they might be if there was any difference in the formulation. However, one popular chain’s best-selling “men’s” protein powder and “women’s” protein powder have exactly the same ingredients and cost exactly the same. The gender difference comes in how much you get for your money with the women’s product weighing less than the men and while the labels show equal numbers of servings per container, the women’s serving size is smaller.

Worth it? Protein is protein, regardless the color of the package. If you are looking for targeted supplements to help you with female issues like extra iron for menstrual bleeding or calcium for bone strength then buy those separately.

Sport Deodorant

While men do sweat more than women, we can still get really drenched and a good deodorant is a necessity for most people. Thankfully there’s now stronger strength “sport” deodorants that come in longer-lasting waterproof varieties. But them women’s versions typically cost $1-$2 more than the men’s for the same size.

Worth it? Scent is a huge factor for me when it comes to deodorant and while men’s and women’s formulations probably work the same, I’m willing to pay the extra cash to smell like flowers instead of cologne. (Sidenote: I’m also willing to pay all the men around me to never, ever wear Axe.) Plus, some deodorants have ingredients to help pit hair grow back slower and thanks to women’s workout tops showing way more skin than men’s this is a definite plus in my book.

Bike Seats

Avid cyclists know that a lot of time in the saddle can cause some, well, saddle sores. Fortunately there are now “anatomic relief” bike seats designed to take the pressure off of your most sensitive areas. But guessing from the price – a man’s saddle is $24.99 and a woman’s saddle of the same brand and model is $39.99 – manufacturers must think our lady bits are way more sensitive.

Worth it? I don’t think anyone would recommend using a seat seat designed for the male anatomy so this is one price differential you’ll probably just have to accept. Or buy the kind with the individual butt pads – they may look dorky but my dad swears they are the most comfy things since the Snuggie.


Lifting unstable weights is one of the hottest new fitness trends but these versatile tools don’t come cheap. Especially if you’re a girl. A basic black sandbag is $99 from one popular retailer but the pink sandbag of the same dimensions is $104.99. It’s not a huge difference but considering the camoflauge option is still only $99, it seems a little unfair to upcharge for a more feminine color.

Worth it? If swinging something pink motivates you more to workout then it’s worth the five bucks. Otherwise, stick to black and show off your new shoes with a pop of neon.

Do you buy any fitness gear (besides clothing) that is specifically made for women? Have you ever paid more for something just because it’s pink?

*I do have a couple of guy runner friends who swear that wearing a sports bra under their t-shirts prevents nipple chaffing on long runs. Of course they don’t call them “sports bras”, they call them cropped tank tops or something, but it’s basically a sports bra….



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