The Student Recreation Center, a positive space that encourages students to remain active, can be intimidating for students trying to get in shape for the first time.
I am not disputing the usefulness or quality of the recreation center on campus. Quite the opposite—the facilities provided by the school at the recreation center are well furnished, functional and not to mention shiny. It is partially the crowd the recreation center tends to attract that can make working out there so uncomfortable.
Allow me to clarify: muscle-y, sweaty, in-shape students do not in and of themselves dissuade less fit students from coming to the recreation center. It is the muscle-heads grunting unnecessarily, lovingly admiring themselves in one of the various mirrors around the gym while they lift that can make the recreation center, in a word, suck. It is the Rec bunnies with their immaculate, fully made-up faces and coordinating sports bras that intimidate chubby chumps such as myself.
But do not get it twisted. I am not trying to put down fit Bobcats who work hard to look the way they do. In fact, I congratulate them on their attractiveness. I will not deny that I enjoy having a plethora of sweaty six packs to stare at while I am huffing away on the stationary bike. Even the girls in their expensive sports wear can serve as inspiration.
When your shape is vastly different from 99 percent of the gym population, however, it kind of saps your motivation. It can be hard not to let your imagination get the best of you. The times I do go to the recreation center to work out, I often end up imagining fit gym-goers chuckling behind my back and making sarcastic comments about my flabby booty. These thoughts are, of course, ridiculous—I have a fantastic booty. Still, I know I am not alone in my irrational discomfort.
Perhaps if the recreation center provided some kind of support for gym newbies, it would be less intimidating. A buddy system pairing newbies together, or with more experienced gym-goers, could be beneficial. I know that I am more motivated and comfortable going to the gym when I am accountable to a partner.
Another thing the recreation center could do to help out intimidated Bobcats is provide preset workout plans. Plans could be customized to goals such as “weight loss,” “heart health” and “muscle building.” Based on the student’s overall goals, gym staff could hand out plans outlining basic workouts and levels of intensity.
Even just an introductory walk-through of the facilities and how to use the various machines could make the recreation center a less daunting place for newbies. A huge barrier to entry at the gym is just having the knowledge to properly use the machinery there.
Overall, the recreation center is a great place for students to get in shape. Until the atmosphere becomes more conducive for inexperienced students, however, many of us will likely stick to pounding the sidewalk instead of iron for our daily workout.