The people I find the most inspirational in the gym are the not the ones that look like they stepped out of the pages of a fitness magazine—not unless they are amongst the variety that had to earn it by fighting against genetics and overcoming a lifetime of bad lifestyle habits.

The people who truly inspire me are the ones that are still fairly new to the gym. The ones that have gotten fed up with their poor health and are determined to do something about it.

I’m not at all saying anything negative about the people who have great physiques and continue to develop them. It is great that they have such a high level of health and continue to maintain or improve their fitness. I applaud choosing every day to be fit.

But many of them don’t know the battle that has to be fought by some. They have been gifted with natural muscle mass and a high metabolism. They look at a treadmill to lose five pounds and glance at the weight rack to add lean muscle.

A lot of such individuals are also young and don’t yet know what it is like to have that supercharged metabolism slow down to the point that thinking about ice cream is enough to add inches to the waistline.

Those people can stop reading right now. I am very happy they are in the gym and work hard to keep what they have, but this article isn’t for them.

This article is for the overweight people that have had a mostly sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. The people who have gotten tired of looking in the mirror and feeling shame. The people who have gotten tired of never having energy and feeling weak. The people who have made the decision to change.

It’s not easy to make the choice to step out of the comfort zone and try something new. It’s even harder when it involves going to a place as intimidating as a public gym.

Bryce Reedy | The Criterion

Public gyms can be very intimidating for newcomers who may already feel ashamed of their bodies. Men and women gym rats flit about in revealing outfits that display amazing bodies that do little to enhance the wavering confidence of newcomers.

I know because I was there once myself. Before I became a physique competitor or a personal trainer, I was an obese smoker with a sedentary lifestyle and terrible eating habits. I had to fight a long, sweaty battle to get to the point that I could step out onto a stage and let my body be judged.

That is why I find those who are in a position I once occupied to be inspiring. I know the battle they face every day to come to the gym and make a concentrated effort to change.

I see their red faces, their chests heaving for breath and their muscles shaking. I also see that determined look in their eye to go on. That look fills my heart and is the driving reason behind why I became a trainer in the first place.

I look at those people and become inspired because I believe in all of them. I believe they will become the newest success stories just as I once was.

It boils down to determination. I truly believe that any goal is possible with determination. It doesn’t matter where a person starts. All that matters is that they keep moving forward and refuse to give up.

Even if the starting point seems so far removed from the ultimate goal, it is not impossible as long as the person believes in themselves and puts forth the effort required to keep making progress.

It will be hard but all things worth doing are. It doesn’t matter how hard it is, it doesn’t matter how long it takes. All that matters is the willpower in the individual and their belief in the possibility of the goal. Henry Ford made this clear when he said, “whether you think you can, or think you can’t…you’re right.”

So to all those who have grown tired of where they are and have decided to do something about it, I say this: it is possible. Refuse to give up, refuse to back down, refuse to allow the gym, the people in it, the exercises or anything else stand in the way.

The starting point doesn’t matter. The obstacles don’t matter. Determination and discipline are all that matter. Through them all goals are possible.

Do work. Set goals. Reach goals. Set new goals. Keep moving forward and discover that impossible is only a state of mind.

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Chris DeLeon
Chris DeLeon is The Criterion's news editor for the 2017/2018 academic year and a certified personal trainer and military veteran. He is in his second year at CMU, working towards a bachelor of science degree in exercise science before going towards a doctorate in physical therapy. Chris began writing seven years ago but recently brought his love of the written word to journalism.

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