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Women At UConn On The Student Recreation Center

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

The UConn Student Recreation Center is loved by many, but is intimidating to others. UConn’s campus gym is undoubtedly impressive, with an estimated $125M value and 191,000 square feet of space. However, some students hesitate to work out there for a multitude of reasons, including how crowded it gets, fear of a new environment, the learning curve, and much more. I’ve interviewed three women who frequently attend the UConn Rec Center: Emma, Lauren, and Maddie. For those of you who have been wanting to make the gym a habit this year, they each offer unique perspectives and motivating advice to help ease your worries.

Emma (@emmaafitt)

Emma started going to the gym about four years ago and has a lot of valuable insight on getting started. Their favorite thing about the Recreation Center is the people, stating, “All of the people you see there consistently putting their work in are some of the nicest people I have met, and they never hesitate to help others.” Emma puts a lot of emphasis on how helpful many of the people who attend the Rec Center are and encourages newbies to ask questions if they ever have any. However, their least favorite thing about our campus gym is how busy it gets, describing it as overwhelming. They shared, “It’s hard to move around during rush hours, and there are few people who don’t respect space and don’t understand how dangerous it is when you don’t pay attention to your surroundings in a gym that busy.”

Emma did have worries about attending the Recreation Center originally, recognizing how hard it can be to step out of a comfort zone. They overcame this fear by making the realization that everyone at the gym is there for themselves and are not worried about others. “My advice I would give to women going to the gym is to stop caring about what others think,” they shared. They also encourage new gym-goers to make a playlist with songs to motivate them, to go into each workout with a plan to keep them focused, and to work out with a friend (don’t be afraid to make one there!).

“My advice I would give to women going to the gym is to stop caring about what others think”

In terms of what UConn can do to make women in the gym more comfortable, Emma believes clubs and workout classes dedicated to helping women create personalized workout regimens would be helpful. They stated, “Going to the gym as a woman has a lot to do with confidence as well as having information that will help them be successful in the gym, and I think both these ideas can help with that.” While they see a comfort element in having a women’s-only section of the gym, they think it would further separate men and women when it would be more beneficial to integrate them.

Emma also shared that the gym is a wonderful way to work on your mental and physical health and that the outcomes are worth overcoming the fears. They encourage anyone to reach out if they have questions or need help.

Lauren (@lilvil_lifts)

Lauren has been going to the gym for about two years, and learned how to lift through strength and conditioning coaches for her high school and middle school sports. Her favorite thing about the UConn Recreation Center is its accessibility. She shared, “We’re so lucky to have so many different options to exercise that other colleges don’t have,” referring to the rock climbing wall, group exercise classes, lifting zones, and other programs offered. Lauren’s least favorite thing about the campus gym is how packed it gets, describing it as “frustrating” when you are trying to get a quick workout in during your busy day.

At first, Lauren was intimidated by the major lifting areas in the gym, as they are typically filled with mostly college men while the women gravitate to the functional training zones. She explained, “I think I was just hesitant because I had a fear of judgment again that I had already got over at home, but once I eventually learned how to use the machines here and where they were I started to feel more comfortable.” She shared that going to the gym with her roommate also helped her get over that fear. She has always felt safe there, having nothing but positive experiences with the staff and other students.

Despite feeling comfortable now, Lauren understands the fear many young women in college have about attending the gym on campus. She thinks UConn can alleviate some of these fears by creating a workout class, similar to Emma’s ideas. She stated, “I think it would be beneficial to have a fitness class for young women that teaches the basics to weight training and exercise.”

“I think it would be beneficial to have a fitness class for young women that teaches the basics to weight training and exercise.”

She has a lot of helpful advice she’s learned in this process of getting comfortable at the UConn Recreation Center. For example: going to the gym with a friend, identifying off-peak hours to work out using the UConn Rec app, wearing comfortable gym clothes you feel confident in, planning your workout before you get there, and choosing whatever form of exercise you enjoy the most.

Maddie (@maddgoodhealth)

Maddie has been working out in various ways since high school. Her favorite things about the UConn Recreation Center are the vast amount of equipment, as well as the people who go there. She shared, “I love teaching fitness classes and have picked up many additional certifications through the years, expanding my horizon of modalities to teach and do in my own workouts.” She explains how grateful she is to have such a nice facility on campus, and that her least favorite part is when it closes!

She absolutely feels safe and included at the Recreation Center, and has many many friends there. Although she doesn’t want to speak for everyone, she has always felt welcome. She did have fears of being judged in the gym before reaching this level of comfortability, however. She actually cites her method of overcoming this as stepping out of her comfort zone, to begin with, allowing her to realize it’s a judgment-free zone. She stated, “It’s also important to realize no one else is paying attention to what you’re doing or how you’re doing it, especially in my opinion, I can’t even keep track of my own sets and reps most of the time.”

Maddie cites a couple of resources the UConn Recreation Center offers for those who are looking for a more private area to work out in, as she doesn’t believe that a women’s-only section would be helpful. For one, she emphasizes the fitness classes offered, which are in smaller groups of people and are led by an instructor. On the second floor, she suggests the turf as a comfortable place to work out using the dumbbells nearby.

“You are allowed to be there just as much as anyone else. Take up your space. Show your personality, talk to others (when they want to talk), and just have a good time.”

Some advice Maddie shared included being open to learning new things and receiving feedback, as everyone has something they can improve on. She shared, “You are allowed to be there just as much as anyone else. Take up your space. Show your personality, talk to others (when they want to talk), and just have a good time.” In general, don’t limit yourself!


Overall, many of the women who have been going to the UConn Recreation Center went through the same fears and hesitations stopping so many students from going today. However, anyone can overcome these fears and should not be afraid to step out of their comfort zones to reach their goals. Try some of the advice these strong women suggest if you’ve been wanting to go to the gym at UConn, but have been too nervous to do so. Make use of this gym and all it has to offer!

Emma stated, “I understand people look intimidating, but usually it’s them who are the kindest and most helpful. As for the women who are already in the gym, keep up the good work!”

Thank you to Emma, Lauren, and Maddie for participating in the interviews for this article and for their valuable insight! They post workouts, recipes, and more which are worth checking out on their Instagrams.

Cawley DiStephan has been a writer at the Her Campus at UConn chapter since 2022. She writes about a variety of topics including culture, relationships, life at college, entertainment, and more. She is most proud of her article “Women At UConn On The Student Recreation Center.” Cawley is a political science major on the pre-law track. She hopes to be a lawyer one day and is still exploring her options in what specific field. Outside of her writing for Her Campus, she enjoys writing political analysis for her classes. Her love for writing extends to her job at the UConn Writing Center, where she works with peers on their own writing assignments. She is also involved in several project-based initiatives at the center. In Cawley’s free time, she listens to a lot of music. Her favorite artists are Frank Ocean and SZA. She also enjoys watching films and TV shows, some of her favorites include BEEF, Poor Things, Beau is Afraid, Game of Thrones, and Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. One of her favorite activities is thrifting, and loves to drink a matcha latte or a dirty chai while she does so. Cawley loves to enjoy all of these hobbies with her friends, family, and boyfriend.