With the summer season in full swing, there’s never been a better opportunity to take advantage of the great weather to fulfill fitness goals that were long overdue from winter. My months in hibernation and overall laziness from the cold, snow and slush took its’ toll on my well-being and the time to do something about it was better now than never. To many, I’m just your average guy. I take public transit, swim and jog from time to time but with school and social events in the way, I realized I never took time off for myself. Hence, I decided to sign up at a popular local gym.
I consider exercise to be one form of self-respect. Your body works for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without a word of gratitude given to it. So often have we overlooked the fact that we owe it to our bodies for our very existence! With countless health benefits from leading a healthy active lifestyle, I looked forward to getting into shape. Many of my friends asked me why I couldn’t have worked out from home, or torrent workout videos online from popular programs such as Insanity or P90X. I simply replied that I did not have the motivation to do it, especially on my own. I felt that if I was going to be serious with my goals, I would have to suffer the consequences if I was not proactive and what better consequence is there than losing money from my gym membership every month if I didn’t take advantage of using it whenever I could! However, as a first-time gym user, there were many things I noticed and perhaps my experiences will prepare you, fellow reader, on what to expect when starting your fitness journey at a gym.
My journey first began in the change room. Thankfully, my gym does a pretty good job at cleaning the facilities but I’m aware of horrible stories of the lingering smell of gym socks and body odour filling the air. As you change, you can’t help but be self-conscious about your body image, but being vain and not doing anything about it leads you nowhere. Positive thoughts lead to positive results I tell myself. As I checked out the equipment and began to lift weights, you notice yourself being watched by other gym users, and it is a bit intimidating. I feel like they are gauging how often I go to the gym, how much do I lift, or if I’m a threat to the masculinity of macho-attitude guys around me! These are the silly questions that go through my head. I also noticed that the gym is actually pretty quiet, with the exception of background music and the occasional clanging of weights being dropped on the floor. I can’t pinpoint why it’d be so quiet, but I assume it’s due to the concentration of working out or that it’s the only time a person can truly dedicate to themselves for some peace of mind.
After doing a few sets of exercise on my own, it was at this point that I realized working out would be much more fun and encouraging with a gym buddy. Although I didn’t have a gym buddy, there were a variety of group exercise classes offered and they seemed fun and legitimate. To date, I’ve tried at least 4 different classes, including the crazy Zumba, and I’m having a blast (although I’m usually the lone duck among a crowd of middle-aged women). The group exercise classes actually motivates me surprisingly because not only is the fast paced and upbeat music great, there’s this weird mentality that if I leave half-way through the session, it’s a bit dissapointing. I’m sure I’ll notice many more things as I continue on, but one thing I learned for sure is that fitness is a lifestyle choice. It’s not a fad or a phase. If you expect real change, know that you can influence your life by doing and changing small things here and there. Try biking to work, or using public transit and getting off a few stops early to walk the rest of the way, or substitute the bag of chips for some apple slices. Once you start, there’s nothing from stopping you!
About the contributor: Alexander Truong is pursuing his BSc in Biology and a minor in French Studies. He enjoys many activities such as swimming, gaming, and volunteering. Favourite novels of his include Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and most novels by Dr. Seuss.