Students prioritize working out, gym offers outlet for students to stay healthy

Although Liberty Senior Christina Feazell is often recovering from injuries, this doesn’t stop her from prioritizing fitness at the LaHaye Fitness Center every night. 

“I have a lot of orthopedic issues and medical issues,” Feazell said. “Basically since I was 14, I’ve had two surgeries a year. Once I got a grip on my life again and I was starting to recover, I wanted to be able to take control of my body while I had the time.”

Although Feazell’s reasons for pursuing fitness are unique, there are many students all over campus who prioritize time in the gym. Whether they are into body-building, have specific fitness goals or just want to feel healthier, balancing schoolwork with the pursuit of strength can prove challenging. 

“It has become a lifestyle for me,” Feazell said. “It’s a part of my day, just like showering and eating. I need the gym.”

For students as serious as Feazell, this means planning ahead in classes. She spends one day a week working ahead in all her classes, so she has time to dedicate to the gym. Other students like David Hendricks, a sophomore, feel it is worth it to wake up extra early to get in a workout. 

“You just feel so much better after you work out,” Hendricks said. “Staying healthy is super important; you’ve got to treat your body right.”

This doesn’t mean that exercise has to be boring, though. For Isaiah Contreras, a sophomore, mixing up his workout routine is part of what makes it fun. 

The gym provides students of all kinds a safe place to exercise. (Photo by Courtney Russo)

“I’m not always in the gym lifting – I’ll run, I’ll swim,” Contreras said. “ … I like to just be able to have a wide variety of what I’m doing.”

Part of what has made fitness so popular in recent years is its prominent presence on social media. For some, this is a powerful tool, while others may see it as a source of intimidation or body-shaming.

“If you scroll through my Instagram feed, most of it is various fitness pages,” Feazell said. “It can feel deflating at times because you see where some people are, and you want to be there, now.”

She emphasized that there is a balance to everything, and the right mindset when going to the gym is vital. In her opinion, if someone is going to the gym because they hate the way they look, they should step back and re-evaluate. When used correctly, Feazell said social media can be used to learn about new regimens, track progress, and find healthy recipe ideas.  

“(Social media) plays a big role,” Contreras said. “A lot of people get motivated by it.” 

For Contreras, social media is just one small tool that can be used to live a healthier life. For him, fitness permeates everything — what he eats, his sleep schedule, and even his mental health. 

This hits home for Feazell too. As someone who deals with anxiety, she has found that the physicality of working out has helped her immensely. For her, creating a lifestyle of fitness is more than about building muscle — it is about taking her body back.

“I’ve always been a super active person – when all of it was stripped away from me, I was extremely depressed,” Feazell said. “When I finally was able to get back into it, I felt like I was getting access to that part of me again. (Fitness has) always been a priority for me, but you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.”

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