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Getting to the Gym

I wouldn’t even want to count all of the New Year’s resolutions I’ve had go unresolved. There have been all too many in my 21 years, and the list includes: be happier, have more fun, do better in school, try something I’ve never done before, step outside of my comfort zone and, of course, go to the gym.

Hannah Cohen, Collegian

That final resolution is one that has resurfaced year after year. It’s common knowledge that exercise is good for your physical and mental health, just like getting enough sleep and drinking lots of water – two goals also buried in my graveyard of failed resolutions.

This year, however, when winter break finally came around, I found myself with an exorbitant amount of free time, no responsibilities and nothing I should be doing. Instead of doing nothing, I decided to take some initiative.

At first I didn’t know what to do with myself, but then I considered going to the gym and working out. I’m a dancer and the desire to improve my overall strength and technique was motivation enough.

But the thought of walking into that large open room with heavy metal machines placed neatly in a grid, and the constant soft whirring of the equipment interrupted by squeaks from sneakers on the courts reminded me of the other times I tried and failed to make working out a habit.

And so, with all that free time, I began to think of why it had always been such a struggle. I have always been athletic, having grown up playing lacrosse, snowboarding and even earning my black belt in Taekwondo. But every time I walked into the gym, I never knew where to start. What machines to use? How to use them or for how many reps? Is that even what they’re called, reps? I didn’t have a clue.

Like many times before, I began to think of ways I could work out in the comfort of my own home. What if I got one of those work out videos they show on infomercials? That costs money, and I’m a broke college student.

Then came the revelation that ended up being the very solution I needed: I decided to look up group classes. I figured if I could go in and have someone teach me how to work out I’d be set. No more feeling like an idiot, squinting at the tiny print directions on the weight machines because I didn’t wear my glasses. No more side glancing or mirror peeking to see how the Lulu Lemon-wearing six pack abs to my left are using the crunch machine. Heaven’s light shines down, angels start singing and the wisdom of the universe is bestowed on me as I take out my computer and surf the University of Massachusetts campus Recreation Center website.

I was shocked to see the variety of courses offered, and for free, through the Rec Center. They had everything from Zumba and Vinyasa yoga to spinning and belly dancing. I checked the schedule, found a class I was interested in with a time that worked, called up a few friends begging them to join me in my new venture and the next day I was off to the previously dreaded halls of the Campus Recreation Center.

While I am new to the exercise class scene, I have to say if you are one of those people who are afraid of the gym, try an exercise class. They offer them throughout the entire day so it’s easy to find a time that even fits into even a crazy schedule like mine.

So far I’ve taken Zumba, 30 minute arms and legs, and I have started doing cardio kickboxing regularly at 6:30 a.m. Monday to Friday. I already feel a change in my overall feeling throughout the day. I’m happier, more relaxed and more energized.

It’s not too late to take on that New Year’s resolution. I didn’t realize until now how great of an impact working out regularly would have on my daily life. If the group classes don’t work for you, there are staff members at the Rec Center that can do everything from teaching you how to use a machine to being your personal trainer. So get up, get out and get to the gym.

Alexandra Graziano can be reached at agrazian@student.umass.edu

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