From a young age, due to the pressures from social media and what is depicted as ‘the perfect body’, what you look like has been at the forefront of people’s minds.

Everyone now lives in an environment where they heavily criticise their own body, or judge others even if this is a subconscious act. We need to continuously open our eyes and reset our mindsets when looking at Instagram, where certain weight loss pictures and videos are posted. Remember there isn’t one type of ‘perfect’ body or ‘body beautiful’. Everybody must be accepted and, most importantly, health should be promoted above body goals.

Issues around body image

Unfortunately at university the pressure of body image does not waver. However you have a choice on how to deal with it. Go into your university life with as much of a healthy mindset surrounding your body as possible. If this means asking for help, or finding someone to talk to, the benefits of doing this could be significant. Wanting to be healthy is not an unhealthy habit. Yet finding a balance on how to achieve this is important. Joining a gym for classes, a stress relief outlet, or something to structure the day can be really beneficial.

The gym should be a choice and an activity that you enjoy. If you feel that attending a gym will help add structure and positivity to your life, I would 100% recommend it. Yet if you feel pressure that you feel you must attend, or have to change how you look to be able to fit into a niche category, this would be something to really think about. You don’t have to change anything about yourself to fit in better, only change or improve what you want, if anything.

Gym intimidation

If you are part of the gym, whether you are female or male, you may find it initially intimidating. Rest assured you aren’t alone in this feeling. Many people probably wished they could lift more, or run longer. But focusing on yourself and not worrying about people around you (which is easier said than done) will ease this feeling massively.

Try to remember that you are there for only one person, and that is yourself. You should be commended for even trying to be healthier, rather than the things that you weren’t able to achieve in that certain gym session. Any exercise is better than nothing at all and you should be proud for trying to better your physical and mental health.

This is why you should go to the gym, rather than as a result of social media pressure or to fit into a certain body category. Of course it is fine if you want to change the way you look. However, this needs to be done with a healthy mindset, without obsession or unhealthy habits forming.

Put yourself first

If you feel unsure about attending certain gyms, rest assured there are university gyms specifically for students if that helps. You can always ask a member of staff if you’re unsure how to use a piece of equipment. Please don’t feel embarrassed about this. It’s better to ask then to potentially hurt yourself.

Going to the gym should be a place where you can tap out of your every day work life and forget about other stresses. As long as you stick to this healthy mindset of self-love and improvement, a gym at university can be a great outlet. Unless you feel a building pressure to continuously go without a break, or if you are going for not the healthiest of goals or reasons, speak to a wellbeing officer at university or someone through online help sites.

Going to the gym should be a personal choice. Go as much or as little as you want. Do not report or attend for anyone but yourself. Your physical wellbeing is your own. If you’re doing your best for your physical health, while also keeping your mind healthy, that should be everyone’s goal.

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