Students at FHC have made the gym their personal jungle gym


Lotta Petersen

YMCA freeweights section

Whiffs of sweat and tar consume each that enter this iron palace, but there are only a few who make the gym their home. Sophomore Bradley Hoffman has inhabited this area and has made it his jungle gym. 

Bradley thrives in any area equipped with a barbell and weights. The erratic feeling of dry scooping pre-workout while blasting his gym playlist is the singular reason he trucks through each monotonous day. However, like most, he started from the ground and through each lift, has increased his volume, time under tension, and shaped his physique the way he has always dreamed. 

“A while ago, I was being made fun of a lot for being small and nerdy,” Bradley said. “I wanted to show everyone that I could achieve something better than them, and through that, I have found passion in the gym.” 

A light within him is sparked the moment a dumbbell is in his calloused grip. The endorphins released into his jogging brain keep him engaged and help him continue lifting. Sometimes, the endorphins aren’t enough, though, so it’s difficult to participate in the same activity in a repetitive cycle, and like most, Bradley has suffered some difficulties in the gym.

It’s helped my mental health a lot. It’s a good way to blow off steam and feel better about yourself, it’s also a pretty inclusive sport for anyone to participate in.

— Caroline Stevens

“The most difficult thing I’ve encountered with strength is plateaus,” Bradley said. “I’m constantly trying to increase the weight on my lifts, and sometimes, it gets hard that I can’t because it gets to a point where adding weight takes a lot of time to progress.” 

Struggles in the gym can range from difficulties with weights, to injury, or even something as small as a lack of motivation. But like most intensive issues, the benefits outweigh the negatives. Junior Caroline Stevens is one of these gym rats that’s experienced extensive upsides from lifting. 

“It’s helped my mental health a lot,” Caroline said. “It’s a good way to blow off steam and feel better about yourself, it’s also a pretty inclusive sport for anyone to participate in.” 

Being one of the few girls who have the dedication and commitment to enter the gym each day, she has accomplished some incredible achievements. Recently, she has attained a 225 pound back squat and hopes to begin competing in women’s bodybuilding competitions. However, Caroline’s presence in the gym is a bit more extensive than just lifting heavy things, it’s more about being proud that she can finally do something that not everyone else can complete. 

“I’ve never been good at a specific sport before when I was growing up and even now,” Caroline said. “Being able to lift heavy [weights] is my thing. It’s what makes me feel good. [It’s like] when people win a game in their sport; getting up heavyweight is my version of winning a game.”

To excel in sports and win games is actually how most begin their love for lifting. Junior Andrew Novay, who originally started to excel in his athletic abilities in soccer, has now found himself in an endless cycle of weightlifting. 

“I played soccer for thirteen years,” Andrew said. “I played at Midwest [United] and had to quit this year. I couldn’t play soccer anymore because of back injuries. So, that’s why I lift.”

If working out had taught Andrew one thing, it’s that the opinions of others seem excessively irrelevant to him now. By taking care of his body, eating right, and maintaining his workouts, Andrew’s love for this sport continues to grow with each goal he sets for himself and then goes on to accomplish. 

Goals are what drives each person’s intentions. Without the expectations people set for themselves in the gym, the accomplishments wouldn’t seem as valid. So, if considering whether or not to partake in the sport of weightlifting and molding your body to be the way you wish, hard work and dedication are the ways to achieve this standard. 

“It’s never too late to start,” Andrew said. “Don’t focus on [a] diet or what other people think of you too much, and just stick with it for the long run. Over time, you start to learn more, and it becomes easier.”