Conquering the Rec

When I was going into my freshman year at Miami I was absolutely convinced and determined that I was going to work out at least six days a week, if not every day. HA. My dad would always laugh and say that it was never going to happen, which of course only made me even more determined and stubborn about it. I would show him. Just wait.
and again…HA.
I don’t think I ever even set foot in Miami’s rec center until about 2 months into my freshman year. Talk about failing to meet expectations… Beyond the fact that I was having way too much fun with my newfound independence and packed social schedule, the rec was intimidating!! (It still kinda scares me, and I’m a junior…shhhh.)

I’ve played sports my entire life, so I’ve never had to work out in a gym or come up with my own workout plans and schedules, totally self-motivated. I didn’t know how to use half of those machines and once I finally figured that out I still had no grasp on what resistance, time, and incline to set anything to! I probably defined clueless freshman for a while. There are definitely some things I have learned about the rec center that make it a little less intimidating, and a little bit more beginner-friendly.

1. One of the scariest parts of the rec is that once you get there, everyone is busy milling around and seems like they know exactly what they’re doing. To avoid standing around with a blank look on your face, scanning the crowd and looking like a completely lost freshman, make a plan. Have an idea of what you want to do before you get there. Plan out what machines you want to use, how long you want to use them, etc. Pinterest workout boards are a great place to look up some workout routine ideas that can target your specific needs! Just don’t try to use a machine you don’t know how to work, it can be really dangerous!

2. Who are you dressing up for? Do not try and go to the rec to make a fashion statement or impress boys. First of all, no one likes those girls. You’re there to get a good body so you can look great later, not to prance around and flirt with boys in workout clothes that aren’t even comfortable. You don’t have to own some fancy workout apparel or do your hair beforehand – that is a huge waste of time! The most important thing is that you’re comfortable and that you can move in whatever you’re wearing. No one looks good at the rec, you’re going to get sweaty and out of breath and that is okay! I wear baggy t-shirts and yoga pants because I can’t stand the feeling of tight shirts around my stomach when I workout.
3. Don’t be intimidated!! Maybe I still need to take my own advice on this one, but its true. Its just a place for college students to exercise, and everyone is there to do the exact same thing you are. Seriously, no one is watching you or staring at you – even if it feels that way! Seriously, everyone there is much more focused on their magazines, calorie counting, and whatever song is blasting through their iPods to care about what you’re wearing or what exercise machines you’re using. Just go in, do your thing, and walk out. Simple as that! 
4. If you’re still a little nervous, or feel like you still don’t have a good enough idea of the way things work, that’s ok! My best suggestion would be to try an exercise class. Some schools offer these for free the first week of classes, and some are free all year long. It all depends on your school, but no matter what, these are a great option! You get an instructor to tell you what to do (which helps with the whole self-motivation issue), and you’re surrounded by other students which is a great way to connect with people. (Strike up a conversation about how badly you’re both doing at that yoga pose, or how hard that spin class is, you’ll feel less lonely and maybe end up with a workout buddy!) Some of my friends loved classes so much that now some of them have become instructors!
5. Find a rec buddy. This is so important, I can’t stress it enough. Not only is the rec center a great place to make friends, but its a great place to go with friends. There were so many days where there was absolutely no way I would have gotten out of bed and dragged my lazy butt across the quad for my workout if my workout buddies hadn’t forced me to. Having a friend to workout with will help you hold yourself accountable for your goals, and keep you from skipping out on too many days and feeling guilty! You don’t even have to stay together once you get there – sometimes its just nice to have someone for the walk there and back!
6. Stop comparing yourself to the people around you! You have no idea what their situation is. The girl sprinting on the treadmill next to you could have been a track star in high school, and the guy who has been running circles around you on the track could be training for a marathon. You are there for you, and comparing yourself to others won’t get you anywhere but down. Just focus on you, what you are capable of, and what you came there to accomplish. Be proud of the fact that you’re even there in the first place – that’s more than a lot of people can say!

Any good suggestions for workout routines or tips about working out in gyms?

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  • Reply
    August 18, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    I think the time you workout really makes a difference too. I find that working out early in the morning or later at night works best for me. That way I don't feel like a chunk of my day is taken out. It's different for everyone, but finding that time of day that works for you will definitely help you stick to a more regular workout schedule.

    • Reply
      Olivia Tennant
      August 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm

      I totally agree! I am so not a morning person but I usually end up working out right when I get done with classes around 2 or 3 because I'm already out and about. That way I can get it over with and have the rest of my afternoon free!

  • Reply
    J. Parker
    August 19, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Oh I am so right there with you on the baggy t-shirt and yoga pants combo! Is it weird that the bigger the shirt I wear, the smaller and skinnier I feel? Haha I mean, I probably look like a hobo in reality, but I FEEL like a supermodel! 😉

    I'm also a little sad that I'm going to miss watching a thousand girls rushing into the gym for the first time like, a week before Halloween now. Hahah oh those silly freshmen! They'll learn!

    • Reply
      Olivia Tennant
      August 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      No I TOTALLY agree with the baggy shirt thing, it somehow makes me feel way skinnier! And right there with ya on the hobo thing, I probably shouldn't be allowed on public…woops.

      I've been running around like crazy the past few days trying to get everything settled and all of my housemates are absolute workout fiends…like wake up jump out of bed and go for a run. eek. so not my thing!

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