COLUMN: Gymtimidation: Don’t let it stop you from going to the gym

Everyone at the gym has their Airpods in and eyes trained on their phones. They’re only paying attention to themselves so there’s no opportunity for judgment.

Cela Migan is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about daily life for The Maneater.

Gymtimidation, noun. Derived from the popular Planet Fitness commercials, the term describes the feeling of being intimidated while specifically at the gym.

I get it, I’ve been there, too. I am still there. Walking past the rows of toned bodies on the treadmills and passing people aggressively pulling or pushing weights is enough to discourage anyone. However, don’t lose hope.

What you’ll soon learn is that there is no shame in pulling the weight peg all the way up from its place at 90 lbs. to 20 lbs. Everyone around you started in the same place, unsure and unskilled. All it takes is practice.

Often, the hardest part about working out is physically getting yourself to the gym. The MizzouRec is located somewhat centrally and easily walkable, so your biggest obstacle is you. Well, that and figuring out which way to flip your card to swipe out. I swear it changes every time.

One thing that can help to fight intimidation is going to the gym with someone else. You can serve as moral support and keep each other accountable. If you’re both starting out, you can learn together or the more experienced person can help the other.

Something you’ll soon realize is that everyone at the Rec is preoccupied with themselves. Almost every single person in there will have headphones in with their own music cranked up to drown out whatever is playing in the overhead speakers (a lot are TikTok songs, but if you like them, feel free to leave your headphones at home). The headphones send a very clear message: do not talk to me.

The most interaction between gym-goers is one person asking the other if they’re finished with a machine. Even then, usually, people will just hover around the machine they want to use and the other person gets the message.

In looking around the Rec, you will notice that everyone is either looking ahead of them or are on their phones. The “do not talk to me” aura is so thick that it almost cuts through the strong smell of sweat. Almost.

People go to the gym with one goal: to work out. They are concentrated on themselves and couldn't care less about what you’re doing. People are overall friendly and the only reason they may approach you is to correct your posture or handling of weights.

If you’re shy and don’t feel comfortable working out with a lot of people, try going early or late. Anytime before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., the Rec usually hosts few people.

You’re already paying for access to the Rec through your student fees. You might as well take advantage of the facilities and get your money’s worth.

In the wise words of Elle Woods: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands." Hopefully the latter doesn’t apply, but the sentiment is there. Go get your endorphins and don’t let the fear of gym lunks stop you.

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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