By: Lilianna Ruiz
Hello readers! As you can tell by the title of this blog, this week we shall dive into the pros and cons of being obsessed with the gym. As a fellow gymrat myself, I have much to say about the fitness industry. This blog will be mostly based on my own experience, my opinions, and some research. I would also like to say that this blog is not meant to push anybody away from the gym or make anyone feel like they have to go to the gym. Your body, your choice. I write this blog today, to share what I love but also to speak the truth.
So what is a gymrat? According to Urban Dictionary, a gymrat is somebody “who spends entirely too much time partaking in muscle building.” I disagree with this definition. According to me, a gymrat is somebody who goes to the gym consistently. That’s all. A goal of mine is to break the stigma of being a gymrat. There is NO criteria for what you should look like to be considered a gymrat. Moving forward, here is the little pros and cons list I put together.
Improves Mental Health
Can be Costly
Improve Physical Health
Sense of Control and Stability
Improves Mental Health- According to the American Physiological Association, exercise releases dopamine and serotonin. This correlation means that regular physical activity decreases stress and improves your overall mood. There is also plenty of research that shows consistent physical activity improves sleep and promotes better memory too. I will link a few websites for you all to read more about the science behind it, we are women in science aren't we? Speaking from my own experience, I will say with 100% confidence that my mental health has improved tremendously since going to the gym.
More Confidence- Now that we’re aware that being a gymrat can improve mental health, it’s easy to say that being a gymrat boosts confidence too. I know what you're thinking, confidence does not mean cocky. Trust me I know. The stereotype of being a “gymrat” means being cocky, showing off, and ego lifting, but not all of us are like that. Maybe a little though. Anyways… It's only because the gym makes you feel strong and boosts your self-esteem. So why wouldn’t you wanna show off your hard work?
Improves Physical Health- Not to state the obvious or anything, but being a gymrat improves physical health! Besides the obvious muscle and bone growth, there are many more physical health benefits from consistent physical activity. This includes increased oxygen levels in the blood as well as, lowering the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and blood pressure. Taking care of your well-being includes mind, body, and soul.
Sense of Control and Stability- Having a routine makes me feel like I have everything under control and stability in my life. This might not always be true at times, but at least I think it is. This is because I have the gym on my schedule almost every day and it’s something that I can look forward to. When it comes to being a gymrat, it’s where I feel the most stable in my life because I am in control of my own body. I’m the one that motivates myself to get up every morning and I’m the one in charge of what I do then. This is also an aspect that can contribute to the confidence portion of the pros list.
Body Dysmorphia- Now I know this term is scary and can’t be used lightly. So I talk about this topic with delicacy and caution. As you make progress in the gym there are going to be changes to your body. Whether this means weight gain, weight loss, or a figure change. Any of these things can affect the way you perceive yourself. Your body will go through changes that your brain can’t keep up with. Body dysmorphia looks different for everyone. For me, there are days when I don’t think I have enough muscle but also days when I think I’m too muscular. Every day is a different battle between your eyes and your mind. It’s important to remember that you are beautiful and perfectly crafted.
Can be Costly- The costs of being a gymrat depends on your goals. Costs can include creatine, pre-workout, gym memberships, protein powder, or any other supplements you choose to take. I’m the type of gymrat that only takes creatine, a few vitamins, and has a gym membership. Don’t feel pressured to have to buy extra stuff just because Jimmy with the big biceps told you to. Do what makes you feel comfortable and make sure to do your research!
Injuries- When you step foot in a gym and prepare to push yourself to the max, there is risk involved. As you begin to learn your body’s limits and how it functions best, there is room for resetting boundaries. Doing certain exercises to failure or trying new things is a great way to build muscle but only if it is done correctly. You want to make sure anytime you are doing an exercise, you have the right form, the right mindset, and the right goal. Having these three things in mind will prevent you from hurting yourself.
Chasing Perfection- We all love setting goals. As women in science, we have high expectations for ourselves because we know we are capable of the impossible. The same thing applies to being a gymrat. People can have many different goals ranging from building a certain figure or lifting a heavier weight. Once people reach these goals there will always be another, and then another, and another. I know this from experience. There are times when I reach a goal and feel like it’s not good enough. This only stems from wanting to be the best versions of ourselves, which is a good thing! However, it can be dangerous if it gets out of hand. This is why we always have to remind ourselves that we are proud to be who we are and that we are always good enough.
To wrap up this blog, I have a few reminders for you all. You are loved, you are enough, and you are powerful. As hard as it is, never compare yourself to anyone. Women support women, so keep lifting each other up and keep lifting (literally).
“Exercise and Mental Health.” Exercise and Mental Health - Better Health Channel, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/exercise-and-mental-health.
Preiato, Daniel. “Mental Health Benefits of Exercise: For Depression and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 31 Jan. 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/exercise#What-are-the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise?
“Working out Boosts Brain Health.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/topics/exercise-fitness/stress#:~:text=To%20determine%20how%20exercise%20might,serotonin%2C%20which%20can%20improve%20mood.