The Great Weight Room Debate, Revisted

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The Great Weight Room Debate, Revisted

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Over the past few years at Groton, there’s been a lot of controversy about our weight room. For the most part, this talk has concerned feelings of judgement or intimidating in the gym. While the issue is in many respects universal, girls in particular discuss their feelings of discomfort in the weight room. If you’re someone like me, an Upper School boy who works out often, you can’t begin to imagine what these people are talking about. Why all the buzz?


Many girls, such as Freddie Tobeason ’19, will attest that “it definitely is scary to try and push your strength in front of others.” But that article has already been written. Last May, The Circle Voice published an opinion by Nina Norton ‘18 on the gender issue in the weight room.


Weight room issues are not limited to gender. Second and third formers can easily feel threatened by intimidating older students. I remember being 5 feet 4 inches tall, and not an ounce over 115 pounds. I saw huge upper schoolers grunting and sweating around me. Grabbing the wrong weight meant receiving a vicious scowl. Jack Bolton ’21 says that he has felt “scared to go over and use machines where older kids were working out.” Both under-formers and girls tend to go to the weight room in groups during unpopular times to avoid being watched.


I write from experience, because two years ago I felt forced to resort to these tactics myself.


When we drive members of our own community away from shared spaces, then something must change about the way we run things. However, we should not change the weight room policies. This avoidance of the weight room represents discomfort among girls and younger students. These two seemingly isolated trends both demonstrate a larger problem in the weight room: the fear that others are constantly judging.


What needs to change is the view of those working out. It took me at least a year of frequenting the weight room to come to this realization: most are too focused on their workout to pay attention to others. Lucy Chatfield ’18 agrees: “As a senior, I finally feel comfortable in the weight room, partially because I am a senior and partially because I have stopped caring about what others think of me.”


I, along with many others, adopted this attitude over time. If we all take on the attitude that no one else cares what we do, we can work out without fear of judgment. I know it sounds easier than it is, but there are some crutches to lean on. New lifters can ask Cory Varrell for tips and exercises to try. I regret not going to Cory in the first place for help. He is extremely valuable to the school’s athletes and non-athletes alike, and can direct new lifters on the path to success.


In short, Groton students need to remember that the weight room is a place of self-improvement and not of judgement. We should all feel empowered enough to commit ourselves to a routine and work towards our fitness goals.