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Learning to Come to Terms with my “Gym-timidation”

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

Last month, I signed up for a membership to my local OrangeTheory gym, in hopes it would help me develop a much healthier relationship with working out.

You see, I have never been the type of person that goes to the gym; far from it, actually. When I was a kid, my PE class was the only one I actually got a bad grade in. I hated running, I was afraid of crossing the monkey bars or balancing on a balance beam, I could not catch a ball, and I was always the last one chosen when making teams for any group sports. 

But the worst part was, I never really tried to change anything about that. I was simply afraid of trying to get better. All the kids were much more athletic than me, and any attempt to try to improve my fitness levels just felt embarrassing; I was already out of breath when I had to run a mile for class. Why should I make my breathing heavier to run it just as fast as everyone else? 

Unfortunately, this mindset of “I already suck at fitness, and it looks bad to try and get better” stayed with me throughout my whole life. In high school, I preferred to sit in the back of the gym and play cards with my friends instead of participating in the class activities. 

I will admit that in college, I did start to feel the effects of living a very sedentary lifestyle; I felt sluggish most of the time and I was not happy with the way I looked. So, I made an effort to use the college gym. However, even when I was “gyming,” I was not doing it in a way that would lead to much change. I either stayed within my comfort zone of just walking on a treadmill or following a YouTube video because I didn’t know how to use anything else. Moreover, whenever I went to the gym in college, I always made sure to go at times when there were very few people around; I didn’t want people to see me try to work out, as there was always something in the back of my mind telling me, YOU LOOK LIKE A LOSER!! YOU’LL ALWAYS BE THAT PLAYER THAT’S CHOSEN LAST, YOUR BODY ISN’T MEANT TO MOVE THIS WAY. 

Basically, even when I was supposedly doing the right thing, it was not even in a way that would be productive or helpful. Hence, it became very easy for me to skip the gym when things got busy; after all, it made me feel anxious anyways! What was the point of looking physically good but feeling mentally crummy, I thought at the time. 

And then, back in February, I had a mental breakdown because I couldn’t fit into my favorite dress pants anymore. Now, I wasn’t mad that I gained weight. But I felt terrible because it felt like whatever I did wasn’t because of circumstances or anything like that. This time, it almost felt like it was my gym anxiety that led to this situation; I let my fears hold me back and then I was unable to wear something that made me feel confident.

That’s why I bit the bullet and signed up for my local OrangeTheory gym. For some context, OrangeTheory is different from a traditional gym; instead of just doing things on your own, you are guided by a coach to do a HIIT workout. Basically, it’s more of a glorified PE class than anything else. But, I figured that I needed something like this; rather than fading into the shadows on my own, I wanted to learn how to do things properly and I didn’t want to think about my routine and what I was doing. 

Now, I’ll admit that I am not perfect yet. When I go to an OrangeTheory class, I notice how people are more fit than me, that I lift lighter weights than everyone else and that I get out of breath faster than others. My gym intimidation still persists. 

But strangely enough, I feel like I am coming to terms with it, and that one day, I will finally be able to ignore my fear of the gym. My coaches at Orangetheory have been extremely supportive, and most importantly, have taught me so much about how to properly perform certain movements, which in turn leads me to feeling confident and strong instead of fearful. And, I even notice that it’s taking me less time to get out of breath than when I first started. On top of that, at Orangetheory, we are required to wear heart rate monitors that help us to track our calorie burn, and seeing just how much energy I do exert feels strangely motivating; honestly, it feels really good to know what I am doing and know exactly how what I am doing is making changes to my body.

So, I guess I can say at this point in time, I haven’t overcome anything, nor do I have the advice to teach someone how to get over something. But I am extremely grateful that I am learning how to get over my gym-timidation, and I hope to one day have this moment in my life be a lesson for overcoming fears in the future.

Brinda Kalita

UC Riverside '24

4th year history major with opinions on anything and everything