The gym shouldn’t be a scary place

Elisabeth Martin, Campus Carrier Features Editor

Listen, ladies. I know you love the treadmills and the ellipticals. I know you feel restrained to the front part of the gym, away from all of the big guys who lift a lot more weight than you do. I know you worry about squatting because your leggings might be just a little bit see through. But I’m here to say that you shouldn’t be, because gym politics are really stupid.

I’m talking to the women who watch workout videos on Instagram but then talk themselves out of using free weights upon getting to the gym, because there is a huge dude right next to where they need to be. I’m talking to the women who go home to do stretches and ab workouts because they don’t want to be seen sprawled out on the floor in the gym. Ladies, we’re better than this. It’s okay to get your game on!

The Cage has a noticeable divide, quite literally. The front section of the gym that is full of machines, treadmills, rowing machines and elliptical machines is separated from the back section of the gym containing free weights and squat bars by an actual wall. You’ll also notice, when you pay attention, that most women stay on the front side of the gym while most men stay in the back. We play our gender roles quite nicely.

I acknowledge that women do tend to enjoy running on treadmills and doing other cardio activities. They burn a lot of calories and give you the freedom to watch Netflix at the same time. I also acknowledge that men feel expected to love lifting weights so they can get big and jacked like the people they see on TV. I get it— maybe that’s what people just like to do.

Though what I also see are strange dynamics that keep both men and women from exercising in the best ways. Ladies, weight training is really good for us! Having strong, toned muscles is nothing to be ashamed of. I promise you will not look like the Hulk if you add curls and deadlifts to your routine. Men, you should run on that treadmill for as long as you want.

Additionally, nobody is judging you for your lack of know-how in the gym. There are literally staff members whose job it is to show you how to use machines that you’re unfamiliar with, and they’d love nothing more than to be able to help you. Nobody is judging you for only being able to bench half of the amount of weight as the person next to you. Everyone at the gym is there for the exact same reason that you are: to get a good workout in and to feel strong and confident. Nobody is thinking about you and judging you because everyone is worrying about what others are thinking of them. You can relax.

In my experience, the gym is full of a lot of insecure people. Committing time and effort to working out every day takes a lot of discipline, and I find that most people decide to do it because they are either unhappy with their bodies or they worry about what their bodies would be like if they didn’t work out regularly.

Remember that next time a grunting person scares you away from your favorite machine. There’s no reason to be ashamed of the effort you’re putting in.

The gym is your oyster. You should use anything that makes you feel strong and powerful. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body can do. Put headphones in and get in the zone. Grunt if you want to. Hog the weights. Take your time. Get jacked. You got this.

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