As some of you may know, there is a fee included in your payments each year that covers a year-long gym membership to either of the Ryerson athletic facilities. This means that you have access to the Recreation and Athletic Centre (RAC) and the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) for a whole year. You may hear or even find yourself saying, “why am I forced to pay this if I’m not even going to use it?” But I’m here to give you a few reasons as to why it might be a good idea to start going to the gym while you’re here at Ryerson University.
Here are some common questions and concerns I’ve heard people ask, and even said myself when it came to getting out to the gym:
1. I don’t know what to do/how to use anything
This is probably the number one excuse I hear above all others. But guess what? It’s O-KAY! People seem to be under the impression that they have to be masters at using every piece of equipment in a gym, or else they’ll be shamed by their fellow gym-goers. Not true. It’s like anything you do; for a little while it will feel awkward, but once you get used to your surroundings and get into your groove, you’ll be able to just do your thing. If you still have trouble, regular gym goers will actually love helping you out if you aren’t familiar with the equipment. If you were sitting in class and the prof taught a concept you didn’t understand, would you just up and leave the class completely? No! You’d probably lean over and ask a peer for clarification. The same thing applies in the gym. If you’re unsure about something, just ask someone nearby and I promise – especially with the friendly Ryerson community we have – someone will jump right in and show you the ropes. Feel too shy to go alone? Go with a partner! There’s nothing more comforting than to be with a friend who can either a) show you how to use the equipment, or b) knows the same or even less than you about the gym. Are you and your partner both stumped? That’s why Ryerson Athletics provides personal training and group training! You can take a crash course on how to use the different equipment in the gym for a low fee. The instructors will teach you all you need to know about how to use the machines, what weights are right for you, and what kind of workouts suit you best. Check out the services available here: http://www.rec.ryersonrams.ca/ViewArticle.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=22310&ATCLID=204919886
2. I don’t have any time/energy that I can/want to commit to going to the gym
This concern can be quite valid in some situations. You may find in your first year that your schedule feels a little hectic at times, and in fact, there WILL be some weeks where there really is no time or energy left to spend at the gym. However, don’t let this be your excuse. There are just too many benefits to exercising that you don’t want to miss out on. Some of them include:
Wait a sec – spend energy to gain energy? It sounds counter-intuitive to say the least, but this is proven. Even a half-hour at the gym a couple times a week can leave you feeling energized, both physically and mentally. A lot of people use the gym as a means of relieving stress. That’s why they (meaning health fanatics and health professionals) tell you to do something that makes you sweat everyday. The boost of energy exercising gives you will help you get off your butt and do the things you felt too lazy to do before.
Seem to be distracted while trying to study? This could be from a buildup of excess energy. A quick gym session can help you get rid of the excess energy and commit the remaining towards accomplishing a task. Physical exercise can actually help train your brain to focus on a given task, and to refocus it when there’s something you need to concentrate on.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: physical exercise is just all around good for you. There are long-term benefits as well as short-term. While exercise can help boost your energy and help you focus, it also helps keep your heart and body healthy, deterring health conditions that are likely to develop if you never move.
3. I don’t like working out – it hurts
Ah, here we are reminded of the famous saying, “No pain, no gain”. Sorry to break it to you, but the reason why everyone throws this saying around so often is because, well, it’s true! This is not to say that you should be afraid of working out. I once heard someone say something that really changed my perspective on the pain of working out: yes, working out hurts, but at least that’s all it does. The pain is temporary, but what you gain from it is what lasts a lifetime. This goes back to the mental aspect of exercising that I was talking about earlier. The discipline you gain from pushing yourself is something that changes your lifestyle. You’ll quickly realize that you can do more than you ever thought possible, and your sense of self-worth will skyrocket. No longer will your goals in life seem unreachable, and no longer will your first year feel so unmanageable, but you’ll start to truly believe that you can achieve them with a little hard work and effort. So tell me, doesn’t that sound worth a little bit of strain?
4. I’m embarrassed to be at the gym because of how I look
I’ve heard this from many people who have weight problems, and I’m telling you right now that you’re in the right place, here in the Ryerson community. There’s an amazing atmosphere of respect and encouragement in all of the Ryerson facilities that I’ve been in, where people accept you for where you’re at. So what if you’re overweight and have more trouble running on the track than the person next to you? So what if you’re benching 45lbs next to the tank that’s lifting 200lbs? It doesn’t matter what other people can do compared to you. What matters is that you’re making an effort to do something good for you, and your fellow Rams will see that, and only that.
5. I don’t have any goals when it comes to fitness
Sometimes, you don’t even have to. Besides the benefits of exercising that I listed above, there are other ways to approach it. When I first started exercising in my first year, my greatest accomplishment was not feeling tired by the time I reached the top of a staircase. It sounds ridiculous, and definitely silly, but those little accomplishments can really be a booster to an otherwise crappy day. If you don’t have any specific goals, do it because it makes you feel good at the end of the day. Do it because of that staircase that you don’t want to tire out on. Do it because you’re glad that you no longer feel out of breath after jogging from Gould & Victoria to TRSM.
Remember, the gym really is more than a place for weightlifting. You may not be there to gain strength or get ripped, but that’s okay; it is also a place for people to develop and accomplish their fitness goals. With resources available to you at such a low cost (compared to any other local gym), and the Ryerson community there to back you up, why wouldn’t you at least try it? What I’m trying to get across is that the gym isn’t just a place for bodybuilders and high performance athletes; it’s a place for anyone and everyone who wants to do something good for themselves – body, mind, and spirit. My challenge to you this Fall is to try it, and see how it helps you. Because I guarantee, in one way or another, it will.