The Gym and I, or Why We Never Got Together

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When I visited Ohio University before I attended, I remember being awestruck by our local gym: the Ping Recreation Center. With slick machines, nicely painted walls, tons of recreational rooms and even a rock-climbing wall, I wasn’t a fitness nut but I needed to get acquainted with this place.

This would be the beginning of my life in the gym, I thought. I knew this had to be true at the time.

Four years later, I visited the gym four times, max. Half of them, I didn’t even wear workout clothes. Who would have thought one of my biggest regrets in college would be not continuously breaking into sweat? Let me explain how this happened.

I never made time to get to my hometown gym during my high school years. This was not because of laziness. I didn’t have a car or funds for a gym subscription, and my fast metabolism at the time told me not to make the effort. I knew this wouldn’t last, but I wanted to enjoy my poor eating habits at the time then get in the gym later on in life. College, I felt, was a perfect time to get this part of my life started.

A pre-paid, all-out fitness room available with great hours only a couple feet from my freshman dorm, James Hall…what could go wrong?

Fall quarter went by without one workout. My winter quarter also was Ping-less. Then came spring quarter where I didn’t step inside once, proving I spent a fourth of my college years a Ping virgin. Sophomore year would be different, I assured myself. I just let my school schedule get ahead of me. I’ll be more experienced. I’d totally get in there this time.

This, of course, didn’t happen. Halfway done with college, I barely visited one of the facilities that convinced me to come to OU. It wasn’t as though I needed to go the gym; I was in relatively okay health. I was in better shape than, say, a middle-aged, gray-skinned chain smoker from Arkansas. I was still discouraged, however, by how minor my efforts were to become physically fit.

I knew that if I started a regular exercise schedule now, it wouldn’t be a struggle to keep gym visits in my events calendar in the future. At best, I could also get ripped and make good use of these broad shoulders life gave me.

That’s why I did finally put my foot down and make it to the Ping Center my junior year. Of course, being the nerd I am, I made myself do it to help my academic career. For a class, I needed to complete an assignment where I visited a place I never went to for two hours at two different times, and then make notes on the atmosphere, people and sights around me.

Not one to discredit an opportunity, I took this as my calling. I finally put on an old shirt and sweatpants—which I actually had to buy—and hit Ping for some lifting and cardio. No more beer bellies or getting out of breath walking up Morton Hill for me, I thought. This is the beginning of a change.

To my meager credit, I ended up spending about three or so hours in Ping my junior year. Yes, I am aware I told you I needed to spend at least four if I followed the rules of my course. You’d be surprised, though, how uncomfortable it is to take notes on people while they shoot weird looks at me. I did get some lifts in, a couple push-ups and some crunches and string pulling. But while I’d like to say I noticed a mini-bulge form in my arm, whatever muscle I gained deflated like a six-year-old attempting to blow up a balloon.

I do aspire in my senior year to go visit the gym and swim a couple laps in the pool—I hear it’s the best exercise you can give your body—but my ever-busy schedule, job hunting efforts and distance from Ping aren’t conducive to any more gym check-ins. I barely get time to go to my house, let alone make the effort to visit a gym. Plus the trip there is a workout in and of itself. I went to Ping just once this year as a meeting ground for my one-and-only physical activity class in college: bowling. There for five minutes, I spent four of them on my phone sitting down.

I still have seven or so more weeks of college left in me, so it’s possible I’ll seek a last-minute visit to Ping. Weirder things have happened. If there was anything I learned from this, though, it’s that one should never be afraid to take advantage of something as soon as they can. If they don’t, four years later they could find themselves with a gut and a list of exercise regrets running through their head.

Will is a senior journalism major at Ohio University. He writes for, Southeast Ohio Magazine and The Watching World. He also writes the weekly entertainment column "Lights, Camera, Ashton" for his college newspaper, The Post, where he also co-hosts the podcast Post Pop. When he doesn’t write spend his days writing, he enjoys watching and talking about film, listening to rock and folk music and enjoys a drink or two at his favorite pubs.

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