Don’t be afraid to get those gains


The Daily Illini File Photo

Students use the elliptical machines at CRCE. CRCE is just one of many workout options on campus.

By Melissa Niemiec, Assistant Special Sections Editor

I remember my first time in the weight room well. I had thought it a terrifying place, with the clank of metal ringing throughout the building and people sweating and gasping in pain as they labored. It was the gym and, in my mind, a place of torture. Everyone staring, waiting for you to mess up and give up. Silently judging you and your lack of fitness. And even if I faced my fears and went to the gym, how could I possibly find time to make a habit of it?

Looking back after many months spent at the gym, I realize how silly I was. Both of the University’s gyms are incredibly clean and inviting, but at first, their sizes and one’s own insecurities can make them very intimidating for the uninitiated. But finding a facility that makes you comfortable, knowing where things are in the facility and being realistic about your insecurities can help you conquer the gym.

There are two facilities on campus that students can go and work out at for free: Campus Recreation Center East and the Activities and Recreation Center. Though you may choose one to go to solely based on your proximity to them, it’s important to note that CRCE is significantly smaller. For some, this may feel more comfortable, because it isn’t as overwhelming, but for others, it may be less appealing because of fewer equipment options and less space to maneuver in. Picking a facility that you feel comfortable in will make you returning to that facility more likely.

Another issue a new gym-goer will run into is the lack of knowledge on where machines and rooms are, and how to use them. Don’t be afraid to take a walk around the gym just to see where things are and what they have to offer. If a machine is new to you, look for the instructions written somewhere on it. If they aren’t clear, a quick internet search can often take you to videos or better instructions.

A big reason people stop or don’t even start going to the gym is insecurity. It’s common to feel awkward about your body or your fitness ability, but it’s important to realize nobody at the gym is looking at or judging you. If you stop and really look around at any workout facility, you’ll see everyone is focused on themselves and the goals they’re trying to achieve.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

One tactic for making the gym a less scary place is to bring a friend or a roommate along with you. Not only does having a partner in crime make a facility less intimidating, but it can also help you get to know that person better. Another tip is to get gym clothes that are fun or that you enjoy. This can boost your confidence and make working out a little more fun.

Maybe it’s not the starting that’s a problem for you, but keeping up the habit. As school picks up and friendships are formed, it can be difficult to prioritize exercise, especially when you’re not paying for a membership. It’s important to block specific times during the week to designate for exercise so it’s a part of your routine.

If you’re really determined, a tip is to rent a locker and leave your athletic clothes there. That way, there are less excuses to give, since your stuff is already there at the gym. Also, since you’re paying money, you might be more motivated to keep up the habit.

So, you’ve tried the gym and you still hate it. You just can’t make yourself enjoy spinning on a hamster wheel for an hour. That’s okay! If you honestly hate going to the gym, then it’s not a habit you are able to or should sustain. It’s important to stay healthy, but there are many other ways you can stay fit. Take a bike ride around campus, walk around the Arboretum, join an intramural club or go hiking with friends. The world can be your gym.

However you choose to stay healthy, just be sure you’re comfortable and enjoying yourself. Soon, you may even look forward to your fitness time.

Melissa is a junior in LAS.

[email protected]