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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a swimmer. I trained almost every single day for almost every year of my life– two swim practices a day, weight training at school, group dryland a few times a week, etc. Swim was my LIFE. I saw myself swimming in college, I wanted a scholarship– because I never saw myself NOT swimming. But one day, I decided to stop. I try to look back on it in fondness and not disappointment that I dedicated so much of my life to a sport I didn’t end up continuing, but it’s hard. Until I started going to the gym.

I’ve always sort of gone to the gym, walked on the treadmill for a little bit, did some personal training to get faster in the water, but I’ve never gone to the gym like I do now. Now I can say that I’ve been consistently going to the gym and lifting weights for about a year. It was never something I was particularly interested in high school, but once I got to college and didn’t have swim practice everyday anymore, I decided I would try the gym. 

My first year I started going to the Cal Poly REC. Don’t get me wrong, having the REC is awesome, but it is so…crowded. I would get up every single day during the week at 5am to get there right at opening, 6am, in order to get in a workout that left me feeling satisfied (I also wouldn’t have to wait for any machines– most of the time). I also needed to avoid the lines of frat men at every machine. Then I started taking the gym more seriously the summer after my first year, so I got a membership to Planet Fitness. This isn’t because Planet Fitness is the greatest gym of all time or anything, but I’m a college student and it’s $10 a month– that’s pretty much all I needed to hear. 

Now going to the gym is the best part of my day. It has become a huge hobby of mine, something that I really love, and in turn, it has become a de-stressor. Whenever I’m feeling anxious: gym. Whenever I’m upset about a man not worth being upset about: gym. Whenever I’m in a good mood and want to get my blood flowing: gym. I could be going and lifting super heavy or I could just be going to stretch and walk on the treadmill for a bit– I know it will always improve my mood and my health. 

I think a lot of people think of going to the gym as a chore. People have asked me before, “How are you so motivated?” The thing is, there are definitely days when I do not want to get up and go to the gym. But, it’s about self-discipline more than it’s about motivation. I always tell my friends that are trying to get into the gym to make themselves go for one month– and then it will become a habit. Once you’re in the gym consistently for that one month, it becomes SO much easier. 

As a woman that lifts though, I’ve definitely experienced some difficulties. Living in a world where people seem to look down on women that are “muscular” or “bulky” because it “isn’t feminine” is super frustrating. Our society has pounded the thought that women are meant to be small and weak while men are meant to be big and strong so hard into our minds that comments like this are super common. But the thing is… Muscles ARE feminine. Muscles ARE beautiful! That is a message I have had to continuously grain into my mind because it is tempting to let yourself fall down hearing comments like that. But do not let it get to you. The gym might end up being your safe space too! And if it is, grow those beautiful muscles! I feel my best when I’m in the gym– dare I say I feel BEAUTIFUL in the gym. 

I challenge you to go to the gym this week. Maybe pick up a weight, try the Stairmaster (or not, those things are modern-day torture devices), and improve! You will thank me later. 

Yours truly,

A fellow gym-girl 

Camden Winton

Cal Poly '26

Camden is a second-year English major at Cal Poly SLO also working as part of the editorial staff for Her Campus Cal Poly. She loves to read and write (especially on the beach) in her free time. She loves going on coffee dates and thrifting with friends.