Gym culture and its impact on teens’ confidence

This story was originally published in the third edition of The Lion’s Tale (January 31st, 2022).

As teenagers, it is not uncommon to want to fit in or struggle at times when it comes to our image, especially body image. There is a lingering and most of the time exaggerated stereotype that being tall, thin, and within a certain weight is what makes you desirable to those you might have interest in. 

Gym culture is a rising phenomena throughout millennials and Gen Z alike -the impact- both sometimes good and sometimes bad.

Throughout the various social media platforms, including TikTok and Instagram, a surge of content creators who post workout videos, “what I eat in a day” videos, and other gym related media such as gym clothing brand reviews and comedic gym skits, has entirely taken over in the past few years. 

This constant exposure to working out in the media has caused an uprise in the number of people throughout the community and as well as Oviedo High who have found the motivation to begin their fitness journeys. 

Many freshmen through seniors alike have found the love and passion for lifting, while some do it leisurely or to just maintain a healthy lifestyle, others have even gone as far as competing not only for the school team, but for competitive clubs in the area as well. 

Senior Emma Hennigan began lifting around the early summer months of 2021, and quickly fell in love with the sport and the stigma behind being in the gym. 

“I remember doing a clean for the first time in the summer and I really wanted to get better at it so I decided to join the girl’s weightlifting team at the school,” Hennigan said. 

The Lady Lions’ lifting team has opened a door for many girls to learn and compete when it comes to weights. 

“It ultimately made me want to continue to compete in Oly-lifting (Olympic style lifting) at a team in Winter Park called ‘Orlando Strength’, the team is a great way to grow at a higher level when it comes to competition and it’s a very rewarding experience” said Hennigan. 

The vast majority of those who lift at ohs do it for the fun of it, or to meet certain goals that pertain to their physical appearance or healthy well-being. 

“I started lifting to help boost not only my personal health both physically and mentally, but to also become more confident in myself and my appearance,” said sophomore Isa Mayorga. 

Many teenagers struggle with finding their confidence when it comes to physical appearance, as society can tend to pressure people to conform to unrealistic, gender-specific appearance standards. 

“I feel like being young in an age where beauty standards are so unrealistic now, it can be hard to be confident, but lifting and having a consistent routine has really helped me personally, seeing the gains and the results give me the motivation to keep doing it,” Mayorga said. 

Going to the gym has become a large part of many people’s daily routines in life, and with its presence and influence that it has in the media, it is sure to continue to become a growing pastime in the community for teenagers.