Throughout high school, I was very active. I played both field hockey and lacrosse. When I got to JMU and decided not to join any sports, I wanted to continue my fitness, however, the University Recreation Center at JMU always had me wanting to draw away. I usually only worked out in training for the sports I played alongside my teammates. When I went into UREC and saw some sections so, male-dominated, I was hesitant, stepping into the weight section all around me there was the clanking of all the heavy equipment hitting the floor and eyes everywhere. There are only a few women who dare to step into the section. When I entered, I was immediately discouraged and at a loss of motivation to be there, leading me directly into the cardio section. I immediately felt safer, more confident, and more comfortable while working out, but I really wanted to make it into the weight section.
One way I was able to start going to the weight section was by going with a friend. She knew everything about each machine and would let me watch her while we would switch sets so I could know exactly what to do when I got started. It made the environment less scary and having a familiar face around was such a big help, especially with someone who I was comfortable with and had no problem with stepping into the weights. When in the weight section, women tend to have many concerns regarding being harassed at the gym. One of my main intimidations when it came to lifting in the gym was starting knowing I would lift less than the men around me lifting.
For a long time, I also had concerns about my weight gain thinking I was not fit enough to go to the gym. I was terrified of what others would think when seeing me. In my head, I was convinced everyone around me was judging and wondering what exactly I was doing there because in my head I didn’t look a certain way. I wasn’t the only one, so many people are concerned about how others will look at them when they are using a machine wrong or they think if they are not in their best state people will just assume they are at the gym to lose weight. The truth is people who are serious about the gym are not looking your way. They are concerned about their own training.
There are not only difficulties women have to face in person when they go to the gym, on social media there is this stigma that people are going to transform themselves physically. When swiping through social media and seeing before and after posts, it gives the idea that you need to start working out to get to the “perfect” body. The problem with this is no matter how much most of us workout we will probably never look in the mirror and think that there is nothing else to change about our physical appearance. There is always going to be that extra roll or one less ab than we need.
When it comes to the gym, you have to put away all the negative connotations and remember that you are going there to better yourself no matter if there aren’t the physical resolutions you wanted to see and there is no reason to be intimidated from the male-dominated sections. The gym is what you make it, so allow yourself to pull away from all the cons and remember how good it is for not only your physical, but mental health.