The Saint

Is it just me, or is it really awkward in here: Overcoming the fear of working out in Sturrus

Photo courtesy of Aquinas College

Story by Jayden Jones, Opinion Editor

We live in an image obsessed society where how you look and what you do determine what you’re worth. This makes even casual conversations about personal fitness difficult to navigate. This is because for many, self-image is very closely connected with physical appearance. It only takes a friend’s comment or a social media binge to unleash the tide of debilitating self-doubt. 

I’m not convinced that the atmosphere in the Sturrus Fitness Center does anything to ease that doubt. Every time I walk up those stairs, I find myself battling thoughts like: I’m not strong enough. I’m going to look like an idiot. I don’t belong here. I swipe my ID, trying to convince myself that I look like I know what I’m doing. There can be three people in the gym with me, or there can be fifteen. It still feels like everyone is staring at me, judging everything from my outfit to my form. 

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. How many of us actually take full advantage of everything Sturrus has to offer? How many of us are kept away by our own anxiety? Our tuition helps to keep the building running. So if anyone has the right to use the facility as often as possible, it’s us. 

Photo courtesy of Aquinas College

For those tired of allowing impostor syndrome to follow them into their exercise regimen, here are a few ways to make the trip to Sturrus a little less daunting and a little more doable: 

Go with a friend. According to the CDC, working out with even one other person can help you to be more consistent, adventurous, and motivated. It’s likely that they might be able to teach you a few new exercises, and vice versa. It’s also nice to have someone to cling to when you start to feel awkward or out of place. 

Come up with a plan beforehand. Maybe it’s a few different exercises scribbled down on a piece of paper, maybe it’s a YouTube video that you follow along with. A plan can provide a sense of purpose and routine, which in turn can boost your confidence. 

Keep it light. Have you ever tried deadlifting while listening to classical music? Bench pressing to Irish folk? I’d recommend it. It might seem a little ridiculous, but it’s a good reminder not to take yourself too seriously. 

Be the change. Of all the time I spend dwelling on how uncomfortable the environment in Sturrus can be, I’ve never done anything to improve it myself. What would happen if I started smiling at the people working out around me? What if they smiled back? Maybe I’d feel a little less awkward. Maybe I’d feel a little more like I belonged. 

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