We all have that one friend who is obsessed with the gym. It might be painful for some readers to hear that I am that friend. However, all I’ve ever really done is cardio, so when Impact Features challenged me to take on a totally different workout – involving venturing into the weights section of the gym – I was suitably terrified.

My terror was, I feel, completely justified. For some bizarre reason, out of all the people I could have chosen with whom to swap workouts, I opted for a good friend of mine who religiously goes to the gym (often as early as 7 in the morning – I know, what a monster), has biceps bigger than my future, and can lift the equivalent of my body weight without so much as flinching.

He was, kindly, up for showing me the ropes. We settled on a Thursday afternoon post-lecture sesh. All seemed well with the world.

“He half-jokingly stressed the importance of puffing out your chest before beginning the session, in order to make yourself look positively full to the brim with male bravado and manliness.”

And then, the day arrived. In my sleep-deprived state, I began to wonder what on earth I had let myself in for. Before I knew it, we were walking up the numerous flights of stairs to the fitness suite in the shiny newness of the David Ross Sports Centre. Obviously, I had done this on many occasions before, but something was different this time.

As I nervously trotted alongside my gym-going buddy, he half-jokingly stressed the importance of puffing out your chest before beginning the session, in order to make yourself look positively full to the brim with male bravado and manliness. A mere 5 foot 4 inches tall, and quite blatantly a woman, this was a challenge for me. Nevertheless, I obliged, and we walked straight past row upon row of comforting treadmills, past the squishy yoga mats to which I had become so accustomed, all the way to the far corner. The weight corner.

Since being a member of the gym at university, I have seen a grand total of five women in that section. Brave gals. For the most part, it is a testosterone-fuelled arena of competitive 18 to 21-year-old males, a place where words like ‘gains’, ‘skull-crusher’ and ‘ripped’ are commonplace, and girls like me are not.

“Not my proudest moment, especially seeing as it was observed by several members of the opposite gender shooting me looks of, at best, befuddlement and at worst, downright pity.”

My surprisingly considerate honorary personal trainer coached me into lifting 8kg in movements I had never before allowed my arms to experience. I collapsed after a strong 6 reps. Not my proudest moment, especially seeing as it was observed by several members of the opposite gender shooting me looks of, at best, befuddlement and at worst, downright pity.

Arms shaking, I reluctantly followed my gym buddy to several other bizarre-looking contraptions – the names of which I can’t remember for the life of me – before I retired, aching, to the treadmill, to do the one activity I’m not actually half-bad at: running.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I plugged myself in to my headphones and let the sweet sounds of my Spotify playlist fill my ears, thinking that in future I’d be better off sticking to what I’m good at. Having said that, I owe my friend a big thank you for being so understanding of my non-existent arm muscle.

And who knows, in future maybe I will venture back into the dark side of the fitness suite. I’d certainly encourage more girls to do it. Just be prepared: if you’re as weak as me, you may struggle picking up your cutlery at your next meal (yes, I was that sore).

Maddie De Soyza

Featured Image: ‘Gym’ by Imre Péterfi (License)

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