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Why I Think the Leach Is the Best Beginner Gym for FSU Students 

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

With a 120,000 square footage facility, 100 cardio machines, over 6,500 dumbbells and over 60 plate-loaded machines, it’s safe to say that the Dr. Bobby E. Leach Center at Florida State University (FSU) caters to every student’s workout needs. “The Leach” is a three-story gym with an indoor track, a basketball/sports court, a sauna, a pool, a jacuzzi and multiple rooms where trainers host events like yoga, Zumba and HIIT workouts. 

When I first arrived in Tallahassee, I was terrified to go to the Leach. A huge high-quality facility like the Leach sounded intimidating, even though I’ve worked out for years as an athlete playing volleyball year-round. I kept thinking that I’d be stared at by other students as I worked out, or worse, that I’d feel inadequate. 

Even though starting a new gym, in general, is frightening, the rumors surrounding the Leach only made me stay away from it longer. Sentences like “the gym is packed to the brim” or “every single man will try to flirt with you” made me feel uncomfortable. As a woman, I hate nothing more than being hit on at the gym—time and place, men, please. Fortunately, it was a pleasure to find out that the men rarely approach women that way at the Leach. Unfortunately, though, the Leach is regularly packed. Luckily, there are prime hours to avoid the big crowds and certain days when only a few people are there. 

From my experience, the times to avoid are Monday through Friday at 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Late Saturday afternoons are great times to go. Sundays are the absolute best, as most Sundays are reset recoveries for our FSU students, so I normally take advantage of that and go to the Leach for my own rest and recuperation.

When I was a beginner, I took advantage of the slow times at the gym so I could focus on my form and even ask for advice from the trainers around the Leach. However, as I’ve grown in the gym and developed more confidence with the weights, I’ve found that the Leach being packed only adds to the atmosphere. As someone with social anxiety, trust me, I’m shocked by this revelation as well. The Leach is different from your regular run-of-the-mill gym. It’s filled with like-minded individuals who are also learning the ins and outs of the gym, which is why it’s such a great beginner-friendly gym for FSU students. It’s comforting that I’m not the only one figuring machinery out or starting my fitness journey.  

Almost everyone at the Leach is a student, so that took away a lot of the performance fear because it made me realize that the majority of us are figuring it out together. I’ve also found that everyone at the Leach just minds their business: they’re at the gym for one thing, and what I’m doing in my little corner is nothing they’re worried about. The fear of getting stared at flies right out the window and as a gym rat who was once a beginner, there’s nothing better than knowing that no one cares what you’re doing and no one is judging you.  

The Leach is also one of the best beginner-friendly gyms because it costs nothing for students. Starting out your gym journey is hard anywhere, but paying for it when you’re still trying to figure everything out sucks. So the benefits of the Leach being free for students is something that I could not pass up.  

Additionally, the Leach has become my safe space for beginners because everyone there is so supportive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a woman come over to me and tell me that she’s impressed by what I’ve lifted or gotten compliments on my “mommy muscles.” It’s a place where students can feel safe doing whatever exercises they want. There’s a section for our cardio bunnies, the hoopers, the dancers, the yogis, the bodybuilder frats, the mommy muscle gym rats and of course, the beginners. It’s a place where you can test out the waters without feeling judged.

I wish someone had told me sooner how much fun it was to be a beginner in a gym with women supporting women and students on the same level as you. The Leach is a safe space for all beginners and who can pass up on a free membership that includes a sauna? 

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Hey Y'all, I'm Bianca, better known as Queen B, and I am a Her Campus Staff Writer!