Don’t be afraid to lift weights

By Magdalayna Drivas | Reporter

Walk into the Student Life Center (SLC) gym at any given time and one thing is for sure–– boys dominate the free weights section and girls stick to the cardio machines.

While there are a few brave souls who defy these norms, I never used to be one of them. Just sneaking a glance into the lower floor of the gym made me feel as if I had broken an unwritten rule. As a freshman, I spent much of my free time watching the seconds tick by on the digital display of the treadmill and I hated every minute of it.

The miles passed by as I ran in place, but my fitness progress remained at a standstill. Going to the gym became a chore equivalent to cleaning the toilet or taking the trash out. If so many people love going to the gym, how can it be so terrible?

I don’t remember ever being taught that I should avoid lifting weights. Throughout the years, seeing skinny girls going to yoga class portrayed in the media had instilled in me that cardio was the only way for girls to be in shape. While some thrive through running and aerobics, I knew there had to be an alternative.

My heart was beating faster than it ever had on a cardio machine as I walked past the treadmills and into the dark unknown of the free weights section for the first time. But after picking up a pair of wimpy 10-pound weights, something magical happened.

I didn’t morph into an NFL linebacker. I didn’t grow biceps the size of tree trunks. I didn’t have veins bursting out of my arms. I did, however, gain a sense of confidence and love for the gym that I never thought could exist.

Adding weight training into my workout routine has allowed me to surpass my fitness goals and truly enjoy going to the gym. I’ve now educated myself on muscle groups and techniques that I previously didn’t even know existed. Most importantly, this transition has reminded me that there is no right or wrong way to achieve your goals.

I know I will never be the strongest person at the gym, but that’s OK. I no longer worry that the person on the treadmill next to me is running faster or burning more calories than I am. With time, I’ve learned that the gym is not a competition. Nobody cares if you can lift 10 pounds or 100 pounds. The only person to compete against is yourself.

The satisfaction of perfectly executing a new exercise or lifting a personal-best weight is something I could never duplicate while only doing cardio. I embrace sore muscles and look forward to my post-workout protein shake. If you love running miles on a machine, don’t let me stop you. Cardio has plenty of health benefits and is an important part of any fitness routine. But if you are bored of the monotony of treadmills and ellipticals, don’t be afraid to spice up your workout with weights.