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The Gym For People Who Hate Gyms, by Coach Chris

In high school, I participated in a summer training program for hockey players that included some time in the weight room at the rink. I had never used any of the machines. I’d never touched a barbell or dumbbell before. I honestly didn’t even know the room existed until that first day. I wandered up the stairs into the makeshift weight room that they’d put together above the Zamboni room. There with about 25 other hockey players (almost all of whom were way bigger and stronger than me). Despite the familiar hockey rink smell of rubber and old socks, I felt like I walked off the moon lander onto another planet. It only got more uncomfortable from there.

The coaches didn’t have any structured program for us. 

They didn’t show us how to use any of the machines or weights. 

They just said “Getting stronger is important, do some work in here and be ready to skate in an hour.”

Uh…OK coach, I’ll get right on that…

I tried to mimic the movements I saw some of the other guys doing. But not matter what I did, I felt like I wasn’t doing it right. Worst of all, I felt like everyone else noticed how lost I was. Whether I was imagining it or not, it felt like everyone was starting and smirking. I wanted to melt into the floor. 

I tried doing some lat pull-downs after watching some other guys do it. You just grab the handle and pull down, right? How hard could it be? 

Halfway through my first set of 10 (ten seemed like a good place to start, why not) one of the other hockey bros took pity on me and came over to help. He said, “Don’t do it like that. You’re going to hurt yourself. Pull it like this instead. These are the muscles you want to use.” 

It granted me a momentary reprieve from my embarrassment, but the fact remained that I still had about 55 minutes left to “work out.” I think I did some push ups and sit ups in the corner, and took lots of “rest time” between sets. 

I just didn’t belong in that space with those guys, who clearly knew more than me and seemed to have it together. It was miserable. I decided then and there that I was not cut out for the gym. It would be close to 10 years before I really tried again.

It’s a frustrating and humiliating experience, going to a place with the intent to better yourself, only to feel even worse about yourself after. Some people can get over the initial hump, and learn to ignore the stares and anxiety. But a lot of us get really turned off to the whole traditional gym experience, especially if we’re coming in with a distinctly different body composition than many of the other patrons. Gyms are supposed to be a place for self improvement and progress, but too often the people who aren’t already super fit are made to feel “less than.” 

A common thread we’ve found in talking to our members at Ripple Effect is that most of them have had similar experiences in the past. They’ve felt lost, out of place, judged, and a little hopeless at gyms they’ve tried before.

At Ripple Effect, our mission is to turn those negative expectations and experiences upside down. We’re the gym for people who hate gyms. If there’s one superpower we have as a community, it’s that we’re incredibly non-judgmental and accepting.

Here, nobody is on their own. From day 1, you have a coach there by your side showing you the ropes, teaching you movements, and helping you overcome your own mindset obstacles. Every time you come to the gym, we’ll have your workout planned for you. All you have to do is get your butt in the door. 

Every single member has your back. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Just by showing up, you’re already part of the crew. 

At RECF we can say with 100% certainty that nobody is judging you on your abilities or your physical appearance. We don’t just celebrate the most talented, strongest, fittest athletes. We celebrate everyone. Nobody cares how fast you go or how heavy you lift right now. Nobody cares what you’re wearing when you work out, or how you look while you’re doing it. We’re just excited you’re there. 

Over and over again, we hear things like this from our members: 

“I never thought in a million years I would actually like working out.” 

“I always hated the gym before. Now it’s something I look forward to every time.”

If you know you want to get healthier, but you don’t think you’re a “gym person,” let’s talk. We’d love the chance to change your mind.

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