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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 UCF chapter.

I don’t think there is one person in this world who is 100% confident with their body, who genuinely wouldn’t change a thing. Part of our humanity in this society is always wanting something more. We aren’t in high school anymore; we don’t have gym classes or many sports teams to choose from. We have to go more out of our way to treat our body with care and for a lot of us, that’s going to the gym. 

The gym has been extra-romanticized on TikTok lately, as it encourages others to start now, so by summer, we have our dream body or to dump him and love fitness instead. If you cope with the gym, “GymTok” promises, your problems will become minuscule. This isn’t a negative observation because I love the new motivation I suddenly have to stay consistent, and I have experienced first-hand my mental health improving from the gym. Still, it also puts a lot of new pressure on us.

The thought of the gym lures us. We are ready to feel good about ourselves again. We desire to be the girl with balanced meals and our dream body. We’re ready, but how do we start? How do we work up the courage to walk into a room of people who know what they’re doing with no idea what to do?

One day last year, I worked up the courage to be the girl I desired to be, and I got a membership to Youfit. Here’s what I learned in my journey thus far.

Your gym anxiety is lying to you

I remember walking into the biggest gym I’ve ever worked out in, swarmed with college guys that automatically scared me. Why does it feel like everyone’s looking at me? There is no way I’m going near the weight area.

I feel like I share a common and valid fear a lot of girls have when it comes to the gym. Not knowing what you’re doing while big guys lifting big weights and everyone seeming to know exactly what they’re doing is a tough mental block to get through.

The biggest thing I learned about gym anxiety, is it’s literally just anxiety. When I go to the gym, I have the volume of my music all the way up, and I’m in my own world and heavily focused on making sure I have a good workout. My point is: this goes for every single person in the gym. Everyone’s focused on their form, pushing past their limits, and thinking about whatever fuels them to get through their workout. No one is looking at you or really cares what you’re doing. They aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing enough to know that you barely know what you’re doing or to smell the fresh blood that you feel like you’re radiating.

Since then, I traveled to the weights side, and now it’s where I love to be.

Lifting heavy is essential

If your goals in the gym revolve around losing weight, getting abs or growing a better butt, lifting weights is essential.

In the past, when I would go to my neighborhood gym in high school, I would do ab workouts on the floor the entire time and call it a day. My biggest tip for you is do not be like me. My new fitness journey has taught me above all, that spot reduction does not exist. You cannot do ab workouts and expect abs. You have to lose fat through cardio while gaining muscles by working to gain muscle in your entire body. Yes, this includes things like deadlifting, weighted squats and even working on your back and arms. Sprinting for a few minutes after also maximizes your progress, along with being in a calorie deficit. It may sound scary, but there is nothing better than the feeling of being strong. You may think off of stereotyped gender roles that lifting is a man’s activity, but really, being strong is sexy.

Fueling your body is important

You might be tempted in your gym era to live on salads and green juices. As great as a skinny diet may sound, if you are going into the gym, you have to fuel your body enough for it to be strong. There’s such a thing as eating clean but also eating enough.

Even in my calorie deficit, I still ate things that tasted good and made me full, but also were good for my body. Eating things high in protein is crucial for gym life, especially for those who lift weights. When I started taking pre-workout, I found it even more important to eat enough so it doesn’t make me feel weak in the middle of a workout. Not eating enough not only puts your safety at risk, but you can’t expect to grow a dump truck if you don’t eat enough to give you muscle.

there are super easy ways to keep yourself motivated

Consistency is key, as it is with anything. For a while, I found it hard to stick out my goal of finding my way to the gym five times a week. I began to find little things to keep me motivated and that made me want to go to the gym. Here are some of the best ways.

  • Buy cute workout sets that you’ll be excited to wear
  • Make a banging workout playlist
  • Follow accounts from GymTok that will teach you new workouts so you feel more confident in knowing what you’re doing
  • Make a Pinterest board for gym inspiration and your body goals
  • Find a friend to go with you; keep each other accountable
  • Buy a cute water bottle
  • Treat yourself to healthy snacks (An açaí bowl after the gym SLAPS)
find fun ways to stay active

I love working out when I’m stressed — and especially when I’m mad. Working out releases endorphins to improve your mood, and I always get in a better pump when my workout is dedicated to a heartbreak, my current drama or any other anger-provoking situation.

To be honest though, other days I do get bored of my same routine. I’ve found though, that there’s so much more to do to switch things up. To my surprise, I found out that my gym (as well as the UCF gym) offers free classes like Zumba, kickboxing, cycling and so many more. I fell in love with Zumba during my first class when I realized it’s literally just a really fun dance class.

Running may as well be my archnemesis, but finding a scenic route during sunset makes your time so enjoyable. Even walking on the treadmill while watching your favorite show on Netflix I’ve found makes a great time.

If you saw yourself in the person at the beginning of my article, afraid of failure, judgment or pushing yourself, let me tell you: the gym will become your best friend, and there’s no time like now to embody who you want to be.

Abbi Donaldson is the President and Co-Campus Correspondent of Her Campus UCF who covers all things wellness and pop culture. She is a senior at the University of Central Florida with a major in Advertising & Public Relations with a minor in Mass Culture and Collective Behavior. Abbi loves all things campaign marketing and brand strategy related. You can typically find Abbi at the gym, a music festival or binging a YA romance novel.