What follows the New Year? The crisp, cutting wind of millions of Americans' empty motivations and prematurely failed resolutions most adequately does.

But let's take a big slice of that cake: the portion of human beings that are still trying to uplift their health and exercise routines in a world saturated with dollar cheeseburgers and "wingz and thingz" (we get it, your restaurant starts with a z).

For those of you eating your way out of this slice of cake, you have most likely begun the other end of the fitness spectrum: exercise. To reap the benefits of your suffocating college tuition, you have probably experienced the epicenter of physical judgment, the origin of primal competition and the genesis of self hatred.

Or, as most refer to it, the TREC. Let's break it down like the ice cream that brought us here: from the top down.

You decide that a nice run to warm-up is a good idea for your cardio, and with an optimistic smile you trot upstairs and put in the headphones to your music player. You take the first step onto the track to ... SMACK. A runner knocks the happiness right out of you.

Refusing to give up, you recover from this blow and suffer mental confusion as a person runs right past you in the opposite direction. Where does this track even go? Left? Right? Is there even a reason to switch directions in the first place? Regardless, you begin your momentum and get lost in your favorite song.

The top floor is more of a courtroom than a fitness area. You have a constant speeding prosecutor who belongs outside on a small rendition of a hot wheels track, constantly challenging your speed.

You have the gossip of the girls who came to walk and talk, and most definitely you have a jury. Oh yes, you row of cyclists, your judgment is palpable. Just when you thought exercise was for everyone, the critique of your running form is manifested; embarrassed, you head downstairs.

Your friends see you and ask you to join their pick-up game, so you oblige. Ignoring the judgment tornado above, you start to have fun.

But then you look at your competition, which oddly mimics the intro of the tiny aliens in Space Jam. More than 100 feet tall, faster than Usain Bolt and wielding accuracy that would make John Wayne jealous, they destroy you and what was left of your pride.

With the prejudice from upstairs and the ego-crushing defeat of the floor beneath, you are not too anxious to see what the downstairs offers.

You slowly tread to the free weights area, and boasting the business of The Hill on Thursday night, you make it to the bottom conveniently co-occupied by your psychosomatic rock bottom.

You get some water in preparation, maybe weigh yourself as a reminder and pump-up of why you are there and head to the jungle. Yes, the jungle. This place is the embodiment of natural selection, and you are the endangered species.

Are these people all distant relatives of Arnold Schwarzenegger? They must be the school athletes or the bouncers at most of the bars you go to. You're not sure if they are pulling themselves up or pulling the whole building down.

Outside of this place you would look and say, "Oh my Butch Jones, these guys are huge!" But here these prehistoric creatures; these "T-Rex" individuals are all coagulated into one bulky image, only making you look small.

You are so close to giving up, but then you make a realization. You have endured several physical and mental obstacles to this point, just to propel a better and healthier life for yourself.

While you may be the smallest – medium in society – member of this gym, you are the boldest and wield the strongest mentality.

No other large member is subject to the prejudiced physical inadequacy that you are, but you endure, and you succeed, and that is a goal worth the struggle.

Cullen Hamelin is a junior in chemistry. He can be reached at chamelin@utk.edu.