“Gymtimidation.” The term has recently come into pop culture to express a fear or nervousness about going to the gym. This is something that I, a regular on the elliptical and treadmill at the Stony Brook Recreation Center, would agree with in most cases when it came to going downstairs to the weight room. Nothing scared me more than the thought of people watching me work out. My brother has always been into lifting and has been trying for years to get me to go work out with him. Yet this insecurity always stopped me.

I was curious about weightlifting, and to finally settle my curiosity, I decided that I should try it. I set a mark: for two weeks, I was going to try and stick to a weightlifting and exercise program. My journey began where most journeys begin:  internet forums. Thankfully, before I found myself in misinformation, a friend told me to look into the Stony Brook Strength Club, because they had resources that would be able to help me.

The Strength Club is a club for athletes of weight training sports including Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Crossfit and Bodybuilding.

“The Strength Club was a huge resource for me,” said Jason Iannelli, a powerlifter and Strength Club member, on just starting out. From the start, Iannelli found the members of the club helpful, along with the books, training programs and videos that became available to him.  

The Strength Club has a beginners’ guide that one can access from their Facebook page that offers debunking myths and links to different webpages that can help lead to the safe and correct information from people who are very passionate about what they do.

“It’s hard as a beginner to sort through what’s accurate and what’s not,” Sam McKay said. McKay is the Vice President of the Stony Brook Strength Club, as well as a competitive powerlifter. “We have a lot of good information on the Strength Club page.”

One of my biggest concerns with attempting strength training was finding  time in the day for it. I had assumed that working out would take at least two hours a day that I did not think I would be able to budget for.

According to David Karpf, a powerlifter and Strength Club member, it is best for beginners to commit to a workout regimen they know they can accomplish. “It doesn’t have to be five days a week,” he said. “There are plenty of three-day a week plans for beginners.”

McKay echoed Kampf’s point, saying that most people can accomplish their fitness goals by working out three to four days a week for an hour to an hour and a half.  “That’s a possible amount of time to commit to something,” he said. “It’s something that most people can find time for.”

So with my program and schedule laid out, I was off.

The first day I went into the Rec center, instead of making my usual turn to go up the stairs toward the treadmill, I stepped into the weight room. The second I stepped into the weight room, fear swept over me. The old fear that everyone would be looking at me came over me, and I wanted to turn around. Yet once I got started, I started to realize how everyone was focused on his or her own workouts.

“People are going to do what they want to do. You can’t spend your time correcting everybody. You wouldn’t lift,” said Karpf. This was the most surprising part of my time in the weight room. I realized that the fear that had kept me away for years was irrelevant.

“There’s a whole insecurity issue where a lot of people,” Iannelli said. “It’s good to have that mindset that if anyone is paying attention to you, they’re not doing the right thing. It’s not going to affect your training any more or less, but if anything, it’ll hurt them.”

“Nobody is going to be staring at you because you don’t fit it in, because, newsflash, no one fits in when they go to the gym. Nobody belongs there. Everybody is doing it for some reason. Everyone has their own goals in mind.”


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