You’re in college and no one’s forcing you to play tennis anymore, so your afternoons are free. You’ve never had a six-pack, which has allowed you to develop a personality, but it’s time to start preparing for senior year spring break as far as three years in advance. So you walk into the gym and see people so attractive you’re almost worried for them. The NSA probably taps ATM cameras just to watch them drop their debit cards and slowly pick them up. You want to get in shape, but you’re starting to believe that M.C. Escher designed the cardio machines. Well, maybe take a break from the stair master and hear the truth.
1. No One at the Gym Cares About You
Unless you’re doing burpees on a moving treadmill, no one is looking at you. People are there to work out, not to stare at your lighter weight, and this anonymity should feel freeing. If you failed to complete your last rep, remember that you were the only one counting. Otherwise, you have a stalker, and that’s a problem of successful people, so good job.
2. Don’t Go Overboard and Get an Eating Disorder
That’s what happened to me. Whoops! What a goof. From tracking calories in an Excel document to failing to throw up an entire pizza and rupturing a blood vessel in your eye because apparently you’re bad at most things, eating disorders are no fun indeed. If you want to avoid this, reach out to a bud: Tell a friend that as an 18-year-old male, you refuse to eat an entire sandwich bun, and they’ll get the hint. What are you, sad? Stop being sad, I’m just a page on the Internet.
3. Sign Up With a Friend And Put Your Relationship on the Line
You’re used to disappointing yourself, not your friends. Schedule a workout with an exercise buddy, who is probably also your real-life buddy. That way, if you stand him or her up, you’re still fat and weak, but now you’re also a dick.
4. Lift Weights to Lose Weight
You can’t gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously, but weight training increases your metabolism and helps preserve muscle while losing fat. Doing only cardio will leave you with matchstick arms and a stomach that looks like a fanny pack. And ladies: stop it with this fear of getting “too bulky” after a few weeks of free weights. It takes years to look like that beast of a woman. Chances are your five-pound tricep kickbacks aren’t getting you there anytime soon.
5. Educate Yourself to Avoid Mansplaining
I mansplained the hell out of that last point, but I was also 100 percent correct (classic mansplaining). In your quest to get fit, you’re going to get a lot of advice from a lot of people who aren’t qualified to tell you what’ll work for you (like me). And most of it will conflict with what you heard the day before. Turns out that super-fit guy from your class goes to the gym three hours every day and shows no signs of being interesting. Your yogi friend keeps referencing Tabata, HIIT and Dosa, and you’re sure they can’t all be exercises. Do some Googling and find what’s right for you.
6. Ignore My Prior Point and Do Compound Exercises
You have no time, will or effort to look into fitness regimens, so you want me to just give you an answer. Fine. Do a 5×5 workout of squats, deadlifts, bench, barbell rows and shoulder presses and run a few times. When you hurt yourself doing all of those incorrectly, sue me for reckless endangerment only to have the case dismissed by the super buff judge.
7. Use a Water Bottle To Mark Your Territory
You can’t pee on the free weights, and you’re not about to spearhead a campaign to change that. Luckily, there’s an alternative for the animal in all of us that needs to claim its space: a water bottle. It doesn’t matter if it’s pre-pee or post-pee, as long as it will someday become pee, no one will touch your bench. People respect liquid.