Overcoming A Crippling Fear of Iron

I suffer from Gymtimidation.

It’s a real problem. I want to workout but I don’t feel comfortable going into the Walton Health Complex. I’ve never really lifted weights and I don’t know how to use half of the fancy machines in the weight room.

I don’t believe in letting my fears control me, though, so in an effort to get in better shape and face my anxieties head on, I sign up for a Weight Training class. What could be better than getting over my cowardice and getting class credit for it?

My class gathers in the gym lobby by nice tables and chairs. We’re an amalgamation of students, some of us from the basketball team and some of us who look like we’ve never stepped foot in a gym. The recently renovated weight room is beautiful. It’s spacious, nicely laid out, and full of people who look right at home.

Just being next to the weight room is enough to make me feel overwhelmed. I glance inside and see a woman using the Queenax functional training system with ease. She jumps up and starts to do a bunch of pull ups— something I know I can’t do.

Our coach cracks jokes with us, teases the guys, and starts showing us some basic exercises. The next few classes are simple skills and max testing classes, where Coach watches our form and makes us figure out how many squats or pushups we can do in a minute. This way we’ll be able to measure our progress at the end.

Before I know it, Coach is handing out full workout programs. I pair up with a friend and we start going through the routine. It’s hard and, by the end of the routine, I’m laughing with my training partner because my arms are going out me while I’m trying to do pushups.

My fear of the gym is gone. I know I can’t do as much as a lot of the people who are in there, but that just means I have more potential for improvement. My goal for the end of the semester? To be able to do at least one pull up.

About the author

Valerie McArthur

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