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Girls in the Gym… or Not?

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Written by Jessica Shelburne

The gym is a place where muscle is built, tension is released, growth occurs, and gains are made. It is not a place for people to go to judge or compete with others, though it sometimes feels that way. It is an unfortunate, yet truthful, fact that some women are unwilling to go to the gym because they are unsure how to use equipment or feel bulldozed by the men there. This is not true for all women, but for others it is a real issue. 

The Belk Fitness Center is complete with an abundance of different machines and exercise equipment. While it is beneficial to have this huge variety, it is a rather small area for everything that is packed in there, which can make it difficult to navigate. Plus, not all machines have detailed instructions, and it can feel embarrassing to not know how to use a machine when lots of people are around, skillfully pounding away on something else.

Between my freshman and sophomore years, I went to the gym probably less than 10 times for these exact reasons. My workouts were seldom useful because I couldn’t find space between grunting men or had trouble efficiently utilizing machines. So many others have similar experiences.

Senior Kasey Martin says she usually sticks to the cardio machines or simpler equipment. “I don’t know too many exercises and don’t want to get in the way of others that have a routine or actually know what they’re doing,” Martin said.

Sophomore Lindsay Chambers would agree, stating, “It’s hard not knowing what you’re doing when everyone around you seems to have experience.”

Although it is seldom discussed, lots of people avoid going to the gym because they feel out of place or overwhelmed. Even some individuals who do go refrain from using more complex equipment because they feel uncertain or embarrassed.

It wasn’t until this year when I went to the gym with people who knew what they were doing, and I finally felt comfortable going. These people are knowledgeable about exercising and helped me figure out how to use the gym and its commodities to my personal benefit. After being given a demonstration of various machine functions and free weight exercises, I feel much more confident in my ability to get a productive workout alongside everyone else.

Perhaps it would be useful to have a few instructors or experienced individuals available in the gym to help those who need guidance. In the meantime, the best advice for anyone wanting to get a better workout is to go with a friend who can either show you the ropes or who can figure out the machines with you. For those who do enjoy regular gym time, bear in mind that everyone is there for personal improvement and the only real competition is yourself.