Joelin Quigley-Bergl | This post was originally published March 21, 2012

Hello everyone, my name is Joelin and I am a second year PhD student in the Sociology Department, researching the regulation of gym2gender and sexuality in British television advertising. I’m new to blog writing, although I have been following the posts on the Rex blog for some time. I though I would use this forum in a slightly narcissistic pursuit, venting my frustration, glee, angst and whatever other emotions that may arise from doing a PhD (all of them probably), and hoping to create a dialogue with people who are going through the same processes as myself.

Yesterday I went to the gym. I have this idea that I will have more energy and be able to concentrate for longer at my PhD work if I am super-fit. Not a particularly strange or controversial idea – indeed, I am sure there is tonnes of research to back up this assumption of mine. But there is one small problem: I HATE the gym. In fact, I hate exercise in most forms. This is not your regular old can’t be asked to go to the gym because the sofa is so comfy type of exercise hate, but more of a panic-stricken I can’t do it and people will stare at me and laugh-type.

When I went to a gym taster session a few weeks back I very nearly cried when I entered the room and saw all the scary gym-equipment staring at me, mocking my flabby figure. This time I didn’t cry, but I kept to the gym equipment kept on the second floor which was almost empty of both fellow gym-goers (although I am not sure I yet qualify as a gym-goer myself, having only been twice), and, more importantly, empty of gym instructors who, with their professionally trained eyes would spot my lame attempts at trying to look like I belong and throw me out (or so I imagine). Unfortunately, the only gym equipment kept on the second floor are leg training exercise machines, so when I walked out of there 45 minutes later I had actually only managed to buff up my legs, from gluteus maximus to the soleus muscle (yes, I just googled leg muscles).

Despite my fear of the gym, I will go back. And I will dare myself to use the gym equipment on both floors. But it may take some time. First thing on my checklist is to stop being paranoid about being looked at. The gym should be for everyone, and especially for those dough-like figures, like myself, who are keen to develop some kind of muscular structure. And I really do believe regular visits to the gym is vital for surviving the thesis too, because here I am, in front of my laptop with an aching hunched back, sinking further and further in to the well-established bum-print on my non-ergonomically designed desk chair. Perhaps someone has got some tips or tricks to share with an unmotivated exercise-phobic?

My prefered state of being? See image above