Picture from my Instagram page.
So, hi guys. My name is Bonnie and I'm a student/fitness fanatic/blog writer. Amongst many other things.
I thought it would be appropriate to start my journey on HuffPost with a blog about getting started in the gym. Original huh?
It's been two and a half years now since I started lifting, so I feel like I have acquired enough experience and made good enough progress to pass on my pearls of wisdom. Getting into weightlifting has been the most incredible addition to my life and my decision to lead a healthier and better lifestyle has transformed me into a confident, positive and strong young woman and I am determined to show everyone how they can make this change too: learning to love yourself and become the best version of you that you can be.
But I get it.
I get that it's super hard to start. I get that you stand at the side line, unsure of how to begin, of where to go, of what to do. Perhaps you lack in confidence or motivation, or perhaps you just don't have a clue what you are doing. You watch a 30 second workout video on Instagram of some jacked guy or some gorgeous fitness model who look like they've been doing this since they could walk and who make it look super easy, and you get this horrible mix of motivation and intimidation. Let's call it motimidation. Like, you feel super inspired and you're like "woooo hell yeah I'm going to the gym right NOW pack your trainers we're off let's DO THIS!"
But in all the excitement, you start to doubt yourself and you think "But where do I start? I don't even know how to squat. I don't even know where the gym is. And don't get me started on my diet. I haven't a clue how to cook. I haven't a clue what to eat." and because it's simply too hard to start, or too overwhelming, you don't. And in another few months, you'll probably get the urge to try again. And you'll probably get knocked back. Again. And on it goes. Over and over.
So how do you finally break that barrier? How do you finally build up the courage to storm into the gym one day, or go to that fitness class, or get yourself to the pool?
How does it all begin?
You just do it.
Nike style. It's as simple as that.
Let's take a look at my journey into fitness as an example.
So, growing up, I was never overweight or terribly inactive. I spent my high school days doing dance classes and going for the odd 15 minute run. I think a weekly game of Wii Zumba was one of my main methods of keeping fit. My mum brought me up on amazing food *shoutout to mama bon*, so I was always very blessed in that I was fed well and I had a good idea of nutrition and how to cook. That being said, my family weren't exactly sporty. We were the kids who did drama and music at school, not hockey and rugby. So whilst I wasn't idle or overweight by any means, I wasn't the epitome of health.
I remember it was the summer before I started university. We were having breakfast at home one day and I remember a good friend of my brother's bringing up fitness and saying, "You will never have as much time in your life to get fit as you do at uni. You have so much time. You can get in the best shape of your life."
And I don't know why, but something about that just resonated with me at the time. So off I went to uni, and spent the first week as any other fresher would - drinking and eating far too much. But what my brother's friend said had really stuck with me. And I thought, he's totally right. Now is my chance to get into shape and look after myself. What else am I gonna do with my 218597 free hours a week?
So, that's what I did. I learned how to run longer distance, I joined fitness classes at the gym, I watched YouTube videos and did little 20 minute workouts in my tiny uni room, stuffing my bag with books and using that for weights. My boyfriend at the time also had an interest in fitness, so he taught me a lot and helped me to get started.
I felt great, fantastic even. I was eating better. I was feeling better. I was living better.
It soon became very clear to me, however, that I wasn't strong. At this point I could run pretty far and I was in better shape and was eating really well, but I had barely any strength. And I didn't like that. As a very strong-minded and strong-willed woman, I didn't like this imbalance that was going on. If I was so strong in my mind, should I not also be strong in my body? And confident? And empowered?
So over the next few months, I started watching more YouTube videos. I started following more women on Instagram. I started reading more articles. I learned about weight-training, strength-training, bulking, boxing, calisthenics. I saw all of these beautiful women who, not only had the most incredible physiques, but were strong, and oozed a kind of confidence that growing up I could only have dreamed of. And over that summer I promised myself, in 2nd year of uni I would start lifting weights. I was going to be strong like them.
Of course, it took a couple of attempts. To be a pretty clueless girl with no prior experience, and walk into the weights room of a university gym, filled with men and sweat and testosterone is a very intimidating thing to do. I take my hat off to every girl who's conquered this with me, because it is not easy at all. There were a couple of days of opening the door, looking inside and saying "nope".
But one day I thought, this is ridiculous. This is something that I'd wanted to do for months now, and I was going to let a bunch of sweaty boys get in the way of that??? I don't think so. So one day I finally stormed in, and sure I probably did a couple of things that were a little bit embarrassing or a little bit strange or whatever, but you know what?
Sure people have a glance over when you walk in, as you do with anyone who walks into a room. But let me tell you something.
The majority of the people in the gym: they're not interested in you. They are far more interested in the mirror and how their biceps look when they're doing curls, or checking their booty out in the mirror, or messaging their girlfriend or boyfriend. Trust me. I know, because I am one of them.
Nobody is looking at you thinking "pffft... they're barely even lifting anything" or "wow, what are they doing here?" or "IS THAT A GIRL AMONGST THE FREE WEIGHTS?!". Because wakey wakey my friends, it's 2017, and in 2017 you can do what you want regardless of your gender or your sexuality or your god damn weight. The gym is not some sort of special club. It's not an exclusive thing. Anybody is welcome, and whether it is your first day and you don't know what a dumbbell is, or whether you're a pro and you haven't left the gym since 2002, it doesn't matter. You have no more or less of a right to be there than anyone else. And nobody is watching.
(Apart from the odd creepy guy but he does that to everyone, don't worry.)
So, my advice to you?
Don't be scared. Don't be intimidated. If you are interested in the gym, or you want to go to a fitness class, or go swimming, then go. The hardest part is done way before you get to the gym. The hardest part is signing up, or getting out of bed to get there. Once you're there, it's easy. Music in, head down, eyes on the prize. Don't you ever let your long-term goals be put off by a room full of strangers and a worry that you might get embarrassed. You owe yourself more than that.
Go get it.
Visit my site for more posts on fitness, diet and lifestyle.
Follow me on Instagram for nutrition and exercise motivation, tips and advice!