Fear and loathing at the gym

 

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

A novice’s attempts at fitness

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

I have never been a gym person. I have been blessed by a fast metabolism that allows me to eat whatever I want without major physical consequences. I’m also privileged to be male and by extension not be ridiculously judged by the size of me or any part of my body by society. I’ve never been particularly buff, but I’ve never had the desire to exercise thoroughly.

Let’s face it; the vast majority of us don’t like the gym. The only ones who do are fitness enthusiasts who have spent lots of time making it a routine habit, and even then I’d be willing to bet most of them didn’t enjoy it for a while. The gym is a scary and daunting place—it’s full of machines that seem ready to rip your organs apart, and muscular humanoids who could also perhaps rip your organs apart. It’s enough to frighten many people away: the overweight, skinny, or just awkward and intimidated—like me.

Like many, I decided January was a good time to conquer my fear of the gym. It wasn’t so much a New Year’s resolution as I just had four hours to kill between classes and decided to take advantage of my free campus membership. Many Douglas students are unaware that the gym is free for all students. Both campuses have one, and heaven knows we pay enough in fees to take advantage of the program.

My designated first gym day came. As luck would have it, my prof cancelled the morning class. I considered going to campus before my next class and working out anyway, but decided to sleep until noon and watch The Simpsons reruns all day before my evening course. Hey, I’ve been doing it for years—old habits die hard. I live by the words of Homer Simpson: “Trying is the first step towards failure.”

I tried again the next day. I walked by the New West campus gym—an all-girls fitness course was currently in progress inside. I walked past the gym and resolved to try again in a few hours.

Later that day, I by chance ran into a friend and mentioned my gym ambitions. As luck would have it, he’s a gym regular and accompanied me to show me the ropes and do his own regular workout. I quickly learned the fundamental points of the gym: barbells, bikes, treadmills, and speakers blaring “Hotline Bling” and “This Is How We Do It.” I only did a quick half-hour workout to get my heart rate going and find out what I’m comfortable with. And at the end of it—I felt great. We agreed to meet regularly on the designated gym day, and it looks like I’ve got a new habit formed.

Gyms are daunting, but it turns out they aren’t actually Hell on Earth. They’re a place to get healthy and to challenge and perhaps even surprise yourself. The feeling one gets after a workout really is as great as what the gym rats will have you believe. If you can work up the courage, step foot inside one. At the very least, you’ll learn something about yourself.