Ben Borgers

Am I a Gym Bro Now?

March 2, 2022

Before last August, I would have recoiled at the idea of going to the gym. And then in August, my friend Kyuho and I decided late one night that we’d get our acts together and start going.

I downloaded an app I’d heard of before called Fitbod, which told me which workouts to do, and headed to the gym with Kyuho the next morning.

Fast forward to now, and I try to go to the gym a couple times a week. I’m not incredibly consistent, nor do I look like a bodybuilder, nor can I lift a car with my bare hands (yet).

But what’s interesting to me is that I so quickly turned from someone who would never have comfortably step foot in a gym to having it be my preferred method of physical activity (pick your poison). I might even admit that going to the gym always makes me happier afterwards.

So what happened?

Exposure therapy, I think. It helped that I went with Kyuho in the beginning, because making a fool of yourself with a friend is much easier than making a fool of yourself by yourself. My theory is that it’s a lot more embarrassing to be a fool and lonely than to be a fool who has friends (pick a struggle, right?).

Still, I always had two reservations about going to the gym: I didn’t know what to do there, and I was worried about looking like an idiot in front of people who knew what they were doing.

The first problem, and half of the second, were solved by using that Fitbod app.

(This sounds so much like an ad that I might as well make it one: use this link to download Fitbod and get three free workouts. Yes, the app’s not free, but any app that can drag me to the gym is worth its weight in gold. Also, I don’t get any benefit from you using that link as far as I can tell, so it’s my pure-hearted gift to you.)

Don’t know what exercises to do? Let your phone tell you! I don’t have to think of anything; it just tells me what to do next. I can tell it what equipment the Tufts gym has. I can delete exercises when I think I’ll look too stupid doing them while taking up the single machine of that type that the gym has.

The app also helps me feel like I’m not making a complete fool of myself. At the very least, it has videos that show me what to do, and I do my best to copy them.

The other half of the solution to the “what if I look like an idiot” problem is less tangible: that feeling mostly just went away. I no longer feel the urge to peek around and take note of who might be witnessing my (definitely still questionable) form. I’m not sure what happened there, other than me just going to the gym over and over again and allowing my brain to get acclimated. Perhaps my brain learned that the gym wasn’t a place to be feared.

Nowadays, I can get myself to go to the gym without thinking much about it at all. I can go, get out as soon as possible, and then feel good that I went.

But still, I’ve somehow made myself a gymgoer. And that’s something that me-from-a-couple-years-ago wouldn’t have considered likely.

I guess most things in life are similar in this way. In the beginning, going to the gym is uncomfortable and embarrassing. But like most things, if you can get over the initial discomfort, it gets better. Or it doesn’t click with you — but in that case, at least you can still say that you tried it.