Sweat and stares: working out



by Martha Groppo

A trip to the Johnson Center is a surreal experience.

First, you walk through those turnstiles. Turnstiles always make you feel more like a member of a stampede than a woman looking for a workout.

Next, you walk through a gauntlet of stares. Granted, we tend to zone out staring at each other on the way to classes, as well. The Johnson Center is different, though; stares are taken to the next level.

I’m not just talking about the creepy meat-market stares that are present in every gym. There are also the calculating stares from girls sizing you up (we do it, too), queasy stares from people stunned by the white glare of pale legs and the stares of people trying to figure out if that sweaty, red-faced person running across them is the same put-together person from their class.

Once you pass the initial gauntlet of stares, you get to select your workout machine of choice. The Johnson Center setup contributes to the growing surreal experience. Think about it. There is a gallery of girls plugging away on treadmills and ellipticals overlooking a pit of men. Odd.

A few girls venture into the pit, but those girls who stick to the gallery have a few viewing options: 1. You can look into the pit of iron and sweating men. (They might also be looking up at you, though, and this is incredibly awkward. Smile? Frown? What’s protocol here? You are running.) 2. Watch the rock wall. (This feels cruel. I mean, the climbers have their rears protruding through a harness.) 3. Read a magazine. (Warning! This can be disorienting. You can totally fall off of the treadmill if you are doing anything faster than an 8-minute mile … not that I’ve fallen off personally.) 4. Stare into space.

When you are done burning off half of your daily ration of chocolate, you head to the locker room. I don’t know what the men’s locker room is like, but the women’s boasts the largest scale I’ve ever seen. In case you don’t feel enough like of piece of meat after the gauntlet of stares, you can weigh yourself on a scale that was clearly designed for livestock. Seriously. Five girls could stand on that thing.

On your way out, you can wave at the live webcam. Yes, there is a webcam watching you while you workout. Am I the only person who finds this troubling?

All of this isn’t to discourage you from working out. My trip to the Johnson Center is the best part of my day—but even the workout-lover can see the surreal aspects of burning calories in an artificial environment.

It just gives us a reason to look forward to spring—when we can run outside without getting frostbite.

by Andy Burress

Guys are always hanging out at the gym, and for the most part, they actually work out for reasons one would expect — to get in or stay in shape, or maybe even play a little ball.

Unfortunately, there are still the few who go to see themselves from new angles in the mirrors and others who go to ogle the ladies upstairs (thanks to the conveniently placed wall clock, right?). But the greater issue, as I see it, lies all too exposed within the locker rooms.

Now before we delve into this dilemma, let me first say that I’m all for a midday gym session, and fully understand that a shower after is sincerely appreciated. I even understand that it’s generally impractical and wholly irresponsible to take your fresh change of clothes into the showers with you. All I’m asking for is the consideration of hanging some fresh undies over the rail or something, just to spare the rest of us while you’re walking back to the locker.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been bent over to lace up my shoes only to look back up afterwards and see that the moon has broken through the clouds a little early, or sometimes even worse. It’s just not cool at all.

There are ways around these issues. We just have to be willing to make the change. Briefly, this is what I propose:

For the mirror-staring type:

The easiest solution here would be to disallow cutoffs, though I know this would never happen. Instead, I should like to entertain the idea of taking all but one mirror sheet out of each section. I can only imagine the hilarity in 15 guys piling on top of one another to get a quick flex in.

For the staring type:

Lady-ogling is no good. There’s really nothing I can do about this one. Sorry ladies. Do keep showing up though. It’s certainly appreciated outside the gym as well.

For those who go full-frontal in the locker rooms:

My goodness, this one should be banned altogether. I don’t even know where to start for fear of some old man calling me a sissy, but something’s got to give. Maybe we split the room right down the middle. Let those that like to bare all have one side, and those who prefer to get buff rather than be in it to the other.

The gym-goer population has been growing a lot as of late, and we should always be welcoming of potential clientele, but we should also look to protect the innocent. Some of those kids never even saw it coming.