I’m going to be honest. I have a girl crush on Shakira. That woman is fierce, and her “hips don’t lie.” I dream of one day attaining abs like hers. Crunches after crunches and planks after planks, I envision having a smoking set of toned abs that will rival Shakira’s. (I am hoping to meet this goal by this year’s spring break.)

To reach this goal is going to take dedication and lots of working out. Thankfully, I am a big fan of the gym. Three, sometimes four or five, days of the week, I don my cute workout clothes, grab my iPod and hit the gym. While I am either warming up with cardio or lifting weights, I find my self zoning out and forgetting my never-ending to-do list. My time at the gym is solely “Hillary time.”

Lately, however, navigating the gym has proven to be a near-impossible task. Thanks to everyone’s New Years resolutions to workout, the gym is jam-packed. And while I applaud these people, I also despise them. Moving through these gym-newbies is like navigating through molasses. It’s frustrating.

One afternoon, I walked into the gym, saw the gym-newbies and walked right out. I couldn’t deal with it. Every cardio machine was taken, and every slot was completely filled. There were groups of men staring at themselves as they are attempting to lift weights.

It’s too much to handle. And I know this chaos is what drives the gym-newbies away after two weeks, the gym connoisseurs into hiding.

Then there are the gym-newbies who get frustrated and bored because they aren’t seeing immediate results. Well, I hate to break it you, but moving up in rank from a gym-newbie to a gym-connoisseur takes dedication. But I promise, working out gets better if you stick with it.

First of all, you should not start out at full force. No marathon runner starts the race running at top speed. If one does, one will quickly become tired and won’t be able to finish strong.

It takes baby steps. Start with a brisk walk on the treadmill and build your way up to running. When it comes to weightlifting, just because you are a man (or even a woman), it doesn’t mean you can immediately bench press 400 pounds. You’ll hurt yourself.

Start small (maybe even just trying to lift the bar, because I promise it’s pretty heavy), and as your muscles grow, add more weight. Becoming a gym-connoisseur takes patience and dedication. It’s the same for my fitness goal of achieving Shakira-abs. I have to keep working and crunching and improving. I’ll get there. And so will you, gym-newbie.

(As for those annoyed gym-connoisseurs, give it three more weeks.)

-Hillary Owens