Meet the guy who is ‘standing up for manhood’

How Peter Lloyd’s gripe with Kentish Town Sports Centre led to one of the most controversial books of the year

Peter Lloyd. Photo: PR
Peter Lloyd. Photo: PR
“I‘m by no means a fitness fanatic, so the very fact I spent money on a gym membership – and actually used it – made my legal fight with Kentish Town Sports Centre all the more surprising.

Still, a raw deal is a raw deal, so when the management casually announced I’d lose 440 hours each year for simply being a bloke (and a ‘beta male’ bloke at that), it didn’t tickle.

In fact, I was so unimpressed that I sued them for sex discrimination.

Sounds extreme, I know, but this drastic measure only came after they snubbed all of my other suggestions for compromise, including: 1) creating a men’s hour while retaining the existing price structure 2) Keeping women’s hour (and only women’s hour) but charging men less, or 3) scrapping single-gender sessions altogether. Simple – or so you’d like to think.

Yet their defence – which they actually said with a straight face – suggested that all men are borderline sex pests in the company of Primark-clad women using fitness machines incorrectly. My counter-argument was that, actually, we were simply being short-changed.

Eventually, like a stand-off at the O.K. Corral, I upped my game and got a local solicitor on the case. Not because I was overly keen on actually *using* those 440 hours, but more on principle. In the end, we reached an out-of-court settlement 24 hours before our court date.

See, contrary to popular belief, male sexuality is NOT bad as standard and I do not fulfil that sexist, sex-mad stereotype which is forever portrayed as masculine truth. And – shock, horror – nor do the overwhelming majority of men. In fact, at no point did I ever see any of Kentish Town’s male population fall under the spell of female sexuality during a spinning class, which is precisely why I wrote ‘Stand By Your Manhood’.

Primarily as a dignity-restoring handbook for modern guys offended by the likes of Harriet Harman, Diane Abbott and Jo Brand, but also as a reality check for more everyday ‘shehadists’ who think they’re on some sort of social or sexual pedestal as a result of their gender (they’re not) – and that sexism against men is fair game (it isn’t).

See, while interviewing experts for the various chapters of my new book (mostly women, I might add), I realised that it’s no coincidence how male suicide, schools failing boys and the growing life expectancy gap have all worsened since feminism became the political and social status quo. Ditto for how ex-wives can legally bankrupt their husbands in a divorce and the way fathers are stripped of parental rights.

This isn’t just a legal reality, but a cultural trend too. Even Giles Coren’s wife, who lives in Kentish Town, told the Daily Mail how she’d rather “die” than give birth to a baby boy – because they’re the “dreaded gender”. Charming.

Fortunately, I like to think my book offers some sage advice to budding wise men who want to protect themselves, this season and beyond.

Released by political publishers Biteback (and available now in the much-loved Owl Bookshop!) it’s billed as the male version of Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, except – for once – this one’s absolutely just for men.

After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. And men who aren’t discerning about feminism are turkeys voting for Christmas.

Stand By Your Manhood is available in all the local bookshops. Find out more about it here


  • Show Comments

  • Jw

    “In providing women-only gym sessions, Camden council is trying to respond to the needs of its female residents. The council’s partners at NHS Camden are also trying to respond to the needs of male residents by targeting health promotion campaigns at workplaces that mostly employ men. So far, nobody is suing them for sexism.”

    I am very surprised and saddened that a view like Peter Lloyd’s been reported in a sensible and fair way by this website.

    • Terry

      I’d love to see the results of anyone suing a NHS trust (or whatever they’re called these days) for anti female sexism – given that NHS spending vastly favours women.

  • Elaine Jacobs

    As a regular user of KTSC, I’d thought that this time set aside for women was for those who (for religious or cultural reasons) found it difficult/impossible to exercise in the company of men. Give peace a chance!

  • Horace

    Kentish Town Sports Centre is a public facility (albeit run by a private contractor) and has to serve the local community. That local community includes some women who, for cultural or private reasons, do not feel comfortable exercising in a mixed gender environment. The Sports Centre therefore has a choice: either exclude those women completely by having the facilities open to all at all times, or exclude men for a few hours a week.

    According to the timetable, there is one 1.5 hr gym all-female session this week and 6hrs of all-female pool time, spread out throughout the week, and not at the same time as the all-female gym session. The centre is open for a total of 63.5 hrs in the week, so that’s 2% of gym time and 9% of pool time lost to men.

    I think that the Sports Centre are making the right compromise to ensure that all members of the community have a sports facility available to them when they wish. If there were men who felt unable to exercise in a mixed-gender environment then it would be right to provide this for them too, but Lloyd does not seem to suggest that there is any such demand. There is nothing approaching inequality here in my opinion.

  • Dan

    I used to use the KTSC and got caught out on a number of occasions by the women-only hours. The staff at the front desk were always apologetic and polite and so I just learned to use a timetable like a normal person.

    After a while though I think the existence of this policy started to grate on me, although certainly not for any sense of feeling “ripped off” of 2% of my subs or being forced to read a timetable. I’ve always been a believer in co-ed sports and fitness as an important way to build positivity and develop respect between the genders.

    Obviously a community sports centre has a duty to accommodate different beliefs and sensibilities, but in the end it was one of several reasons I felt it was time to move on from KTSC. I followed my heart and exercised my powers as a modern consumer, and thankfully in London we are blessed with so much to choose from. I like to imagine that by choosing not to sue the council or write an outraged letter to the Daily Mail, while also moving myself to another gym, I have managed to reach a conclusion where all parties are happy. Best of luck to KTSC for the thankless task of trying to please all of the people.

  • FloraLyd

    Women feeling unable to exercise in the company of men (religious reasons aside) is exactly the problem. Why? Because they are assuming all men are perverts trying to chat them up unnecessarily? I’ve been on the receiving end of street harassment a number of times, but that does not mean I should assume all men are going to treat me badly when they’re asking for the time! This guy just wanted a fair deal. If they did male only gym hours then I wonder the reaction. It wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility for a man to feel uncomfortable working out in the company of women after all. Can we please remember that feminism is about equality. Equality doesn’t give anyone the upper hand.

  • Dean

    MRA makes its way to the Kentishtowner, brilliant (!) Lovely example of correlation = causation too. Utter shite.

  • steph

    I hope Peter Lloyd’s conscience allows him to happily enjoy the fruits of his settlement which is ultimately funded by taxpayers and KTSC users. Shame.

  • Nick

    Surely the gym have a responsibility to improve their offering to all of their customers? The result is that things change and customers adapt. I feel it shows a particular lack of empathy to fail to recognise the value in women’s only sessions. It is with some dismay that Peter decided to pursue a legal route which in my opinion constitutes a misuse of the legal system and a waste of much needed public funds. The fact that Peter Lloyd also appears to be using this to promote his book is highly suspect. One has to question if the whole episode was a publicity stunt? I do hope that Peter will be donating his settlement to a worthy charitable cause.

  • James Carter

    Why settle out of court, what could that possibly have achieved?

  • lilianhunt

    I’m confused, if Peter was really ‘standing up for manhood’ why did he take an out of court settlement? If he’s that fussed and thinks there should be men-only sessions or a reduced rate for men then surely he would have seen it through so the sports centre would have been made to change its policies? Instead he’s shown how it isn’t a matter of principle or rights for men and in some way shown himself to be greedy to take money in order not to persue. Clearly the sports centre has a need for the women’s only hours. If there was a need for men only hours or a subsidised rate then the courts would have decided that, now nothing has been achieved except wasting money and giving attention to someone with a book out.