After joining a gym in Cardiff (where I go to university) last year, I have never looked back. Not once. For a year or so before this choice it was always at the back of the mind that I would love to join a gym. I simply never made the jump for no particular reason at all. And that was super lame. So I took advantage of a no joining fee deal and apart from a month or so that (altogether) I would have been at home from uni, I went 3-5 times every week. Just in time for summer this year I joined a local gym at home because the thought of a summer without a gym was just not a thought I was going to entertain. I thought I’d address a lot of misconceptions about the gym and what I personally get from the gym because I feel like so many more people would make the move if fears were corrected and perspective from all sorts of different people was given!
- There are multiple silly, ridiculous and offensive stigmas/expectations attached to going to the gym. A few that spring immediately to mind are that “females shouldn’t lift”; “you have to be a hench man to fit in”; “everyone who goes to the gym is a Nike model and dedicates their every second to fitness.” All of these I could never believe- and my eyes were opened even more widely to how stupid these views are when I entered “gym life.” The gym is a very personal experience and it exists for us to get fit/fitter, be healthy and excel. Women and men can lift and people of all shapes and sizes can buy a gym membership and head down when they like. Every week I incorporate the chest press into my workouts and in the next year I plan on weights featuring more in my weekly routine. Because I want to and I can.
- Something a few people have said to me is that they’d feel uncomfortable in a “gym environment.” They have said the would fear the people who go the gym, fear not knowing what to do and that guys or girls will judge how they look- whether that be positively or negatively. I have had pretty positive experiences with most people who work at the gyms I have joined. Just the other day I couldn’t work out why the bar on the chest press wouldn’t move; I asked a member of staff to help and as embarrassingly easy as it was to sort out, it was far less embarrassing than struggling for what could have been about ten minutes. Secondly, I really believe that most people at the gym are there to further themselves and couldn’t care less about what’s going on around them. It isn’t a room to inspire arrogance- it simply inspires confidence.
- Another common misconception of the gym is that “It’ll just be too hard.” Of course you can make it as hard as you like but with any gym activity I can possibly think of there are variations of difficulty. There are also activities for different goals and so absolutely everything depends on your aims and what you want to change/improve. I didn’t go anywhere near the weights section for the first couple of months and didn’t until a few machines and activities were explained to me by my boyfriend. Even though he was lifting far more than me he suggested weights that might suit me and after doing some “easier” options I tried some “harder” weights. Increasing difficulty is so effective for me.
My five things that make it more than easy to get in the gym:
- For me the gym could never be a waste of money, and that’s because I make sure it isn’t a chore- I miss the gym when I’m not there or can’t go. I can’t wait until the next time I go. There’s so much to do (I cannot wait to start going to classes!) that it can never be boring. That’s the mentality the gym has given me and it transcends into other parts of my life.
- I can see the changes in myself that are all to do with the gym- including my mindset. My absolute main aim was to tone up my arms. I have a few other aims with them yet, but they have shaped a lot during the last year and my confidence has sky rocketed in regards to my arms (and with the whole of me- confidence is what the gym, for sure, gives you!). I even wear sleeveless dresses, tops and gym tops now (which is because of my confidence, not necessarily because of the changes)!
- Alongside running, it’s my biggest stress relief. It’s the best thing to lose yourself in the gym and workout your stress instead of obsessing over it/feeling glum. And all the while you’re getting something as brilliant as “becoming fitter” from it.
- The gym teaches me so much. I have learnt about so many different muscles and what kind of exercises target what muscles- what kind of fitness it increases.
- The gym shows me how I can do all of it at home too. Sometimes I physically can’t make it to the gym at home because it is a four mile run away. However the gym has easily shown me exercises I can do from the comfort of my living room. From exercises on the mat to what you can do with tools like hand weights, if you really don’t want to go to the gym or can’t ever make it there, gym in your own home. I just love what I get out of the exercises so I would be perfectly happy to do it all at home if I had all of the equipment. I don’t think I’d actually ever transfer everything from the gym to my home (even if I had the money!) but I adore the mat exercises I learn and just doing them in the living room.
I can see I have acted like one of those gym employees everyone fears but I enjoy the gym so much and wish I joined a gym far sooner. While I go to the gym 3-5 times a week in Cardiff, I probably have averaged out as about 3 times at home this summer because I also play badminton and swim at the gym (although I don’t pay for an all inclusive membership), go to Zumba and, of course, run and play tennis. Even though it’s hard to get to, it’s so worth it I could never regret it.
~ Kat ~