Adam’s Apple #4: let’s go gym


Adam Jutt ’25 is a math and economics major from Cincinnati, Ohio who writes articles sometimes. Contact him at

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.

As with the two prior questions answered in this column, this one comes from a close friend of mine! Why have three of the total four questions answered in this column come from friends of mine? Is it because I’m playing favorites, you wonder? Is it because I have specific questions I want to answer, so I make them submit the ones they do? No. It’s because none of the rest of you submit questions, and it is starting to really hurt my feelings. Am I doing something wrong? Is the advice not good enough? I know I come off in these articles as the picture of confidence, wisdom and poise, but I’m a human person with human feelings. I work so hard on these articles (note: he started writing this article the day after he was supposed to have finished it) to give serious answers to people in need of serious help, but my service is not being utilized. One day, this column might not exist anymore… then maybe you’ll regret taking me and my apple for granted. 

Anyway, here’s the question:

“How can I overcome gym intimidation? Everyone’s just so huge!”

Before I dive into the question, I feel as though I should provide some context. I am 6’1 and a touch above 150 pounds. I have only recently achieved a BMI firmly north of the underweight range. The last time I arm-wrestled my 14-year-old sister, I won, but it was a real battle. I can do up to two pull-ups, but not if I’ve used my arms within the last week. Speaking of my arms, you could fit two to three of them relatively comfortably into the average shirt sleeve. All that to say, I understand if you are skeptical of my credibility in answering the question. You probably want this question answered by someone who has felt intimidated in the gym before and overcome it, not someone like me (healthy weight, arm-wrestling champion, pull-up aficionado, toned arms-haver) who clearly has always been the intimidator!

Believe me, I know it’s strange! It’s like asking Lebron James what he does when he pulls up to the local YMCA and realizes he’s the worst basketball player there. It’s like asking Fred DeLuca (founder of Subway) how he copes with situations where he knows less about sandwiches than everyone else in the room. That said, I can empathize with people like my friend. I can imagine what it’s like to be intimidated and uneasy around people who look like they were born in the gym (i.e. people like me). Here are three easy tips!

  1. Go up to the person who looks like they have spent the most time in the gym in their life and promptly punch them in the face. Hey, if it works in prison, it works in the gym! The effect will be immediate. Whereas when you first walked in, everyone looked at you in a condescending way, as if they knew you felt you didn’t belong, after punching the king or queen of the gym, they will all be looking at you with admiration and respect. They’ll be asking you to spot them when they go for a PR. They’ll be asking you questions about how to use the various machines. Now, I know what you’re thinking: What if the target fights back?! By definition, they’re one of the strongest people in a room where strong people congregate, so surely they’ll be upset that I attacked them and retaliate before I can be showered in the aforementioned respect, right? That is why timing is so critical for this technique. If you punch them while they’re standing around drinking water or something, then yeah, chances are good you’ll regret it. Instead, target them while they’re doing an exercise or using a machine which renders them least able to fight back.
  2. Try to lift way more weight than you can safely handle. Now, we’ve all heard of ego lifting, where you lift a weight that exceeds the healthy range for the targeted muscles, such that you end up using bad form and risking injury just to complete the set. For example, adding five more pounds to the bar just to impress the people around you. That is irresponsible and dangerous and is not at all what I’m talking about. I’m talking about putting an extra five-hundred pounds on the bar. When you try to lift it, you’ll immediately fail and likely seriously injure yourself. Maybe even die. However, when everyone crowds around you when you fall unconscious, they won’t be focused on the fact that you might not make it. They’ll be focused on the fact that you thought that moving that ridiculous amount of weight was in your wheelhouse. Sure, you couldn’t squat 800 pounds, but the fact you attempted it must mean 790 was getting too easy for you! Maybe you weren’t the weak first-timer they thought you were. Posthumous respect is the best kind!
  3. Go digging into the past of all the regulars at the gym, and if they ever make a disrespectful comment or give you a snide glance, tell them that you know about all of the worst things they’ve ever done. (Disclaimer: it is pretty hard to find good dirt on people from a simple Google search, so take whatever you can find!) Oh, the way I’m doing this exercise might hurt my back? Maybe the fact that you only have 50 connections on LinkedIn will hurt future job prospects! Oh, you want me to stop playing my music on the speaker I brought because there are other people around and the music is just the soundtracks to 80s horror movies? Maybe your parents want you to make the Dean’s List, like how you didn’t in the spring of 2022. Oh, licking a piece of equipment after I’m done with it is not a substitute for wiping it down? Maybe you should spend less time criticizing me and more time mourning the death of your great aunt (her obituary is online, she passed in August 2011). They’ll quit messing with you in no time!
  4. Remember: A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step!

Hope that helps! 

See you in two weeks, and please submit questions,


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Adam Jutt ’25 is an economics and math double major…potentially. Aside from serving as an opinions editor with The Flat Hat, he is a member of the club tennis team and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and enjoys playing basically every sport under the sun (except bowling– he doesn’t care for bowling one bit and he doesn’t care who knows). In his free time, Adam can normally be found watching SNL, John Mulaney, or Parks and Rec clips on YouTube.


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