I know the title is a cliche yes. But we all swim the tumultuous sea of university life and the unrelenting waves at which events unfold can be overwhelming. In such moments, let us recall the wise words of Gandhi, who seem to float calmly on stormy waters, for he devoted one hour to meditation, and on particularly frenzied days, he doubled his efforts to two. It is no coincidence virtues of the gym has been extolled as an “iron temple” and even a “sanctuary of sweat” by the rock - a meditative respite from the chaos of the outside world, a space in which to harness our physical and mental fortitude, and emerge more grounded, stronger and more resilient than before.
WHY GYM? WHY FITNESS?
Besides the obvious physical health benefits and the like the gym can procure you, in this piece, I’d like to explore the less spoken about. The fiery mentality it can cultivate.
Fitness is about improving your quality of life. It is a tool to build a better you, body, and mind. Assuming you are serious, and you want to grow stronger over the years and are willing to lift weights that’d make you pray before the sets. In this pursuit, we can learn the very same skills that develop the inner self, discipline, self-evaluation, commitment, independence, and even introspectiveness. The gym provides a space, a collective space, to forge the better self, purify it through flame and forge –all lessons the iron is waiting to teach.
The physical aspect is the easiest way to start, there you can learn discipline and commitment through your adherence to your program, especially on days you feel like the gym is the last place you’d want to be. You learn the joy of progress when things go well– you lift heavier week after week, when your muscles start to flesh out. You learn from hard lessons of failures when they don’t– injuries, plateaus of progress, feelings of demotivation. You learn to reflect, introspect and recover from those failures, adjust, adapt, and overcome. Is it a better programme you need? Better sleep? Or a better diet? Or do you simply need to focus? You learn to be humble– you don’t start off with all the answers and have to ask and learn from more experienced gym-goers.
These challenges culminate in a sense of introspectiveness. You ask the why, how, what when, who.
Why am I failing?
What can I do about it?
How can I move ahead with it?
When can I commit?
Who can I ask for help?
These challenges force us to confront the limitations of our bodies and mind. On these days – we learn to understand we are all human. We all get old, and we all will eventually succumb to the frail conditions of our mortal bodies, but what we will keep far longer than our physical strength, is our strength of spirit and mind. The iron is a catalyst to the forging of a better spirit, mind, and body with fire. I have yet to find anyone that has regret working on themselves in the gym. The feeling of centeredness, peace, after a workout is nothing short of fulfillment. And of course, if you really are result oriented, it’ll make you more focused on your work too. Especially on those days where your brain is just too cloudy.
Simply put, the gym ceases to be merely a space for physical betterment. It is a tool for cultivating a greater self. It is a place of transformation, where we can forge ourselves into better, stronger, and more resilient human beings. The iron may be waiting to teach us, but it is up to us to take up the hammer and shape our body and heart. From the gym, it snowballs to life.
THE GYM IS SO INTIMIDATING!
It's natural to feel intimidated when walking into a gym for the first time. But don't let that fear hold you back from achieving your fitness goals. If you're feeling nervous, consider grabbing a friend or two.
In my experience, the gym can be one of the most positive environments I’ve ever experience. Everyone there is on a journey to better themselves, and that common goal creates a supportive community. Fun fact, the biggest guys in the gym are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
We are all equal under the eyes of the iron.
OTHER PEOPLE WILL JUDGE ME!
Do some research before going. But chances are, if you ask for help fellow gymmers will assist you. We were all once a beginner at the gym. If not, the U-town gym has a friendly gym trainer - Prabin!
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone in the gym is focused on you and your performance. But the truth is, most people are too busy working on themselves to pay much attention to others.
In fact, psychologists call this phenomenon the "spotlight effect," where we overestimate how much other people are paying attention to us. The reality is that everyone is in the gym for their own reasons, and they're likely too focused on their own goals to worry about yours.
Personally, I can't recall a single time when I judged someone at the gym. In fact, most of the time, I find myself admiring other people's dedication and hard work. And the same is likely true for others. We're all on our own fitness journeys, and we understand that everyone has their own struggles and challenges.
I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START!
Before heading to the gym, it's always helpful to do some research and familiarize yourself with the equipment and exercises you'll be doing. However, even with preparation, it's natural to feel unsure or intimidated when starting out.
The good news is that most gym-goers are happy to lend a helping hand to beginners. After all, we were all beginners once! Don't be afraid to ask for help or advice from your fellow gym-goers. They'll likely be more than happy to assist you and share their own knowledge and experience.
If you're still feeling unsure or uncomfortable, the U-town gym has a friendly gym trainer named Prabin!
Perhaps we should heed Gandhi’s advice. In times of greater busyness, the more we need a space to get out of our minds. The gym can be such a place. Enjoy the process.
PS - practically, this translates to you gymming an hour or so especially when you’re all anxious and stressed from the demands of the world. You will feel like the work is more akin to a MacRitchie reservoir than Mount Everest. But for this to work you have to work your a** off!