Day in, day out: High schoolers dedication to working out


Students working out at the gym. Illustration by Emily Won, ’24.

One-hundred and forty grams of protein. 8 sets x 15 reps. 6 times a week. For students interested in bodybuilding, weightlifting, or staying fit, routine and consistency are key. Every day at the gym is a step closer to a goal, and working out serves as an enjoyable and rewarding escape from their lives. From strict dietary routines to carefully constructed, personalized workout plans, a satisfying set keeps students moving, motivated and proud.
Consistency is key for junior Patrick Shen. Going to the gym six times a week requires constant dedication. A healthy balance between his school, personal and fitness goals is critical.
“One of the reasons why I started a fitness journey was to become more consistent. It’s a goal that sounds easy, but will only be easy if you develop habits,” Shen said.
Shen, who aims to increase his muscle mass and strength, focuses on high-caloric intake while limiting his fat intake. In order for him to reach his goals, Shen has developed a personalized meal plan and dedicated more of his time to making home-cooked meals that support recovery and muscle gain.
“Life, in general, can get in the way sometimes, and so does getting sick or becoming demotivating, but I say, don’t let it get to your goals,” Shen said. “Obviously recovering is really important. Listen to your body and be accountable. It’s worth it.”
For junior Stephanie Muraus, her fitness goals align more closely with a bulking and cutting routine. According to Healthline, bulking is the process of eating in a caloric surplus in order to increase weight, muscle mass and strength. A cut usually follows a bulk, where you consume a caloric deficit to lose excessive body fat but maintain your muscle mass and strength.
“Bulking is actually a lot more difficult for me because as the name suggests, it makes me look bulky, which is pretty much the opposite of what I’m going for. I know that it’s worth sticking to for the end result but it’s still tough. Trying to hit a protein goal is really tough too because I always feel like I’m overeating,” Murarus said.
Murarus especially focuses on reaching her macro goals, such as following a protein-heavy diet that is fulfilling and nutritious. Although she aims to develop muscle mass, strength and overall lean conditioning, Murarus’s dedication and consistent routine allow her to find enjoyment in the series of weights.
“I originally started exercising because I wanted to feel more confident in my body, but now my goals have shifted to exercising for the sake of my mental health,” Murarus said. “All of these health influencers really weren’t lying about how exercising makes you feel all the more better.”
In the bustling crowd of the lunchline, senior Ian Johnson waits to order a burrito bowl. Rice, chicken and an assortment of toppings. A burrito bowl is an everyday staple for Johnson to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet at school.
Johnson is currently a varsity member of the men’s water polo team but began swimming at age eight. But, when COVID-19 struck, Johnson’s swimming career came to a hiatus. Instead, he came to focus on his water polo performance and spent the next four months training to keep his bodily strength at peak performance.
“Swimming was done for four months. I was just training in my basement every night and I was in there doing full-body workouts every night. And I eventually just fell in love with it and I started to realize that swimming wasn’t really what I wanted to do anymore and I started gearing everything that I did towards weightlifting and water polo,” Johnson said.
As a dedicated athlete, Johnson maintains a strict dietary regime to maximize his performance and progress toward his athletic goals. Whether this means making sure to always eat a filling breakfast or simply resisting the temptation of junk food, diet plays a critical role in his training.
“I was eating clean; I was eating super healthy every day. I still track my calories, I still track my macros and I still have a meal plan. And I mean, everything’s really consistent, but right now, it’s all really so I can prepare for my water polo season. It’s my senior year. It’s got to be the best season yet,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s passions for water polo and working out have never faltered. Day in and day out, Johnson grows closer to his goals. Going to the gym might be grueling for some, but it has always been a place of reward and relaxation for Johnson.
“The gym is one of the most uplifting places you could be at everything,” Johnson said. “There is no one there who’s looking down upon you being there for the first time. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed.”