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Campus Well-Being

New and First Time Visit to The Gym – An Inside-Out Perspective 

May 10, 2022

The following is a guest post by RRC Polytech’s Fitness Coordinator, Mario De Negri.

Doing anything for the first time will seem challenging and intimidating! We might try to avoid doing new things because it might feel uncomfortable. We may have questions like… where do I start? How will I know what to do? Will I feel okay? These questions are all normal thoughts we can have when we enter into places of uncertainty. 

 Interestingly enough, when we challenge ourselves to leave our comfort zone, things can turn out way different from expected. It’s like going on a trip to a new destination. We don’t know what to expect. We might have feelings of fear or nervousness. When we get back from our trip, it becomes a part of our comfort zone, so then we can’t relate to the feelings we had before. We may have never known if we hadn’t tried! 

 Here are some helpful perspective tips to help get you on your journey to physical health and well-being. 

Mind = Body  

Some steps to help ensure success is to visualize each specific action needed to get to your goal. An example of coming into the gym would be to imagine, and maybe you could list the things you need. “I have to get my bag packed with gym clothes and shoes. Then, I’d have to find my way of transportation to get to the gym. Then, I’d have to enter the gym and get changed in the changeroom.” Trying to picture yourself already doing all the steps means you are halfway there in motion. Visualizing our trip to the gym also helps us feel prepared for what we need and allows us to feel grounded in our discomfort.  

Discomfort = Comfort  

Most of the time, it’s more about showing up than it is about feeling the need to do things perfectly. Just attending can bring more comfort to the new environment for moving and exercise. The act of being there will start to feel more normal. Doing simple things like standing, to sitting on the floor and back to standing, repeating those actions can feel uncomfortable at first, but after enough repetitions, we begin to feel more at ease. Then, we can move on to more complicated and challenging movements that could invoke more discomfort, which our bodies will adapt to become comfortable again.  

Weak = Strong  

One of the things we don’t speak about in the gym is that the practice we are doing is trying to make ourselves weaker. In trying to feel weaker, the body will respond, and its response will be strength. The sensations we are experiencing in the gym are our bodies moving into more strength with each time we allow ourselves to feel out of breath or we cannot pick up that object one more time. Embracing our efforts to find where our limits are will transform us into how strong we will become.   

Silly = Serious  

Any new skill we attempt can make us feel silly. That is part of the journey of success. Try to practice being silly a few times in the gym by crawling on the floor, rolling around, or jumping around. The sillier we allow ourselves to be and feel, the response from the body will be a mastery of the movement, plus it will enable us to not to take ourselves too seriously and feel more ok being ourselves. Silly is more childlike and playful. Although it may be termed a “workout”, the gym should be a place for play and for users to feel more like children again. Jumping, crawling, pushing, and lifting are the playful actions we can do to help bring us more in tune with our inner self, which is outstanding work.  

Nervous = Relaxed  

It is normal to feel nervous when going into unfamiliar spaces. Meeting new people, new clubs, and new spaces all bring up some nervousness. However, after a bit of time, we meet others or get more familiar with the space, we can start to feel more comfortable because we know what to expect! Embracing some of the nervousness as your inner wisdom to understand there are things you may not know. As you step into this wisdom to grow and learn, you will relax and be more open to new experiences and essentially a new you. The gym can make us nervous because some things may be new, but the more we try, the more comfortable we will feel using gym equipment and working out in the space.  

Not Knowing = Knowing.  

We know far less than we think we know. Regardless if you have visited the gym 5 times or 30 times, we will always have new things to learn. If you are worried you won’t know something, ask questions, lots of them! Do a simple internet search on one exercise for one body part and practice it. Asking for help is difficult in any situation, so use the gym as a practice tool to ask for help so that it becomes easier to apply that to other areas of your life. For example, you could email us and get a fitness consultation with a simple questionnaire and some direction or book a time to get an orientation on the equipment. On the surface, many people put on a good show, but with every move they make, they experience the same discomfort and challenges we do, which connects us all. Knowing you may not know everything is a liberating and enlightening experience and will open doors to us we otherwise didn’t know. We are all human, and we all navigate through feelings of discomfort. The whole Campus Well-Being team is here for you to help meet you where you are at!