I entered the McNiff Fitness Center in sweatpants and a faded camp T-shirt. My face went without make-up, my legs were left unshaved and my unwashed hair hung loosely in a ponytail. Yes. I looked hot.
I thought this was appropriate wear for an hour of sweating and unattractive attempts to do crunches on a massive plastic ball, but I was soon proved wrong.
On the elliptical next to me stood what can only be described as a want-to-be “Girl Next Door.” Her cheeks were spilling so far out of her spandex “Playboy” shorts, that it was nearly indecent exposure. Her belly button ring (which consisted of about 3 inches of dangly embellishments) was clearly visible below her skin-tight hot-pink crop-top.
As the glare from her acrylic nails in the fluorescent light nearly blinded me while her arms traveled back and forth with the movement of the elliptical machine (on which the resistance was set at level 1), I kept asking myself what business she could possibly have here. At the rate she was going, it looked as though she wasn’t planning on breaking a sweat.
But the insanity doesn’t stop at the girls. On the other side of the dividing line between the cardio equipment and the free-weights stood the most testosterone-fueled center in all of UT, which could not be walked by without hearing the word “bro” used in excessive amounts. The majority of the men wore over-exposing muscle tees and drank protein shakes like reality stars drink vodka. If they ever looked up from their weights, it was only to admire their overdeveloped muscles in the mirror or to check out a girl’s ass.
A male UT freshman (who chose to remain anonymous to avoid conflict) that regularly attends the gym spoke about the guys that normally workout next to him. “They all just grunt when they lift heavy weight. It’s like they do it on purpose to get attention,” he stated.
It’s a rare sight to see any of these avid gym members wander away from their comfort zone, but an exception is often made when Zumba starts. As soon as female students pack into that class, the boys find a sudden need for yoga balls, which happen to rest right outside of the room’s transparent glass door.
The one time I did see a female venture over the line into the free-weight area, even I was admittedly confused. But nothing could match the looks on surrounding men’s faces, who looked even more confounded in that moment than they did in their Intro to Algebra class.
But in the midst of it all, I wanted to applaud the brave girl’s action in breaking the invisible barrier within McNiff — in a way that didn’t involve asking for someone’s number. Watching her lift more weight than the guy right next to her was also entertaining.
Yes, even though the fitness center separates the males from the females, interaction is bound to occur, especially since the sex drive is proven to increase with working out because of raised levels of testosterone (webmd.com).
It’s easily noticeable in the gym. A guy will use nearly any excuse to talk to a girl who is there working out, or to at least get a chance to flex their muscles within her viewing distance.
When I went to sit down on one of the weight machines, a male student immediately approached me and asked how long I would be using the machine. Surprised and irritated, seeing as I’d literally just taken a seat, I stuttered, “Err. I dunno. A few minutes I suppose.” He said “Ok,” but not before giving me an up-and-down look paired with a sly wink.
I’m still not sure if he was trying to get my number or steal my machine, but if he winked at me one more time, he would have lost an eye.
Whether it’s admitted or not, going to the gym is about way more than working out, especially on a college campus, where most put finding someone to satisfy their needs at the top of their priorities.The fitness center is no longer just a place for students to get in shape, but to show off how in shape they already are. It creates a standard in the last place anyone wants to go to be judged.
As I left the fitness center that night, I thought about buying some more attractive gym clothes or at least some waterproof mascara. But it was easy to stop myself when I realized the last thing I wanted to do was draw attention to myself while working out. I like to sweat and work hard when I go to the gym — and to most, that’s just not pretty.
Hannah Webster can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.