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Intimidated by the gym? IM regulars share encouragement for newcomers

January 9, 2023
<p>Communication sophomore Drew McClellan lifts weights Dec. 3, 2014 at IM Sports-West. &quot;Working out relieves my stress from finals week,&quot; McClellan said. &quot;Just getting in the gym and working out is what counts.&quot; Raymond Williams/The State News</p>

Communication sophomore Drew McClellan lifts weights Dec. 3, 2014 at IM Sports-West. "Working out relieves my stress from finals week," McClellan said. "Just getting in the gym and working out is what counts." Raymond Williams/The State News

Photo by Raymond Williams | The State News

At the beginning of every year, a wave of new faces appears at the gym. Of all goals, "to exercise more" is the most popular New Year's resolution this year.

Although some are brave enough to grab a pair of dumbbells or hop onto a machine and figure things out on their own, the stigma of the gym environments hangs over many newcomers’ heads as they begin their fitness journey. 

MSU provides its students with several exercise facilities, including IMs West, East and Circle. MSU’s gyms are often busy, making it a little more intimidating for those unfamiliar. However, regular gym-goers testify that the environment is actually much more supportive and welcoming than it may seem.

“If you need help with something, people have no problem giving you tips," human biology junior and IM West employee Arisa Manuel said. "Or if you have questions about using the machine, I’ve had people help me with that.”

Kinesiology senior and IM West employee Alex Villegas said the encouragement shared within MSU's gyms can lead to new friendships and a more comfortable environment for newcomers.

“The gym is a really good spot to make long-term friends just because everyone has a very similar interest in either their health, increasing weight or overall improving their fitness," Villegas said. "It is kind of nice to see the same faces when you come in time after time, and just have something to bond with.” 

Villegas said some of his best friends are people he met in the gym. Additionally, bringing a friend along to the gym at first can help with nerves and contribute to a more positive workout.

IM frequenters say that many experienced students are eager to help with spotting, correcting form or understanding exercises. 

Computer science sophomore Cole Current has had someone he didn't know step in to help him with his squatting form.  

“My form was really bad, I had no idea what I was doing," Current said. "He was really supportive in  helping me correct that ... He was like, 'I want you to do better, I don't want you to hurt yourself.'"

Different times of the day can bring out different types of people, with varying goals and levels of experience. Law enforcement intel and analysis graduate student Claire Contri said she prefers working out in the early mornings.

“It’s the same regulars and it's a lot of older people, too, so it makes it more familiar and comforting for me,” Contri said.

 Finding the time of day that feels best and reflects your exercise goals is important, Contri said.

While the gym can be nerve-wracking at first, IM-West regulars attest that it's a great place to work toward New Year’s goals and become part of a new community. 

“It’s just a good environment. The people, they care,” Current said.

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