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McNiff Fitness Center Offers More Flirting than Fitness

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.

It seems that these days McNiff has more to do with appearance than health. | Hannah Webster The Minaret

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 (
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

25 Comments on McNiff Fitness Center Offers More Flirting than Fitness

  1. whatever works, I just go to work out if a chick starts looking at me I chat her up and go from there.


  2. I love how everyone grows balls online. This was a good article and quite true as well. I too used to have to work out in morning when all the tools weren’t there taking up all the equipment, and I too laugh at them as they walk around top heavy with little twig legs.


  3. HAHAHA! It’s Freshmen bashing time.


  4. get a life, you dont need to go to mcniff to work out, clearly judging by the photo you took you have another workout room to go to so why dont you just stay there and stop judging everyone around you. It just makes you look like a fool. sincerely the guy who goes to workout at mcniff not think about the sociology events occurring around me.


  5. Hannahbillowme // February 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm //

    God damn you are one egocentric cunt. stop posting this vomit of text.


  6. Dat Squat Rack // February 4, 2011 at 2:51 am //

    If you ever wonder why your single, this article is a shining monument to your relationship status.


  7. “Perhaps you’d like to believe I fit into the category of ranting party girls that ‘skank out at clubs’ so you can easily dismiss my writing and my opinion for your own satisfaction.”

    What do you really expect us to do? You’re a college freshman who incessantly spews sex-related nonsense into each new Minaret publishing. Column after column of “sex talk” does nothing more than give you an air of frustrated sexual desperation. I’m no psychology major (oh wait, yes I am), but I smell daddy issues.

    Besides, you bounced around Channelside as a “slutty bunny” for Halloween. We do categorize you!


  8. I must have missed the Journalism class where we learned how to undermine our integrity and credibility by arguing anonymously over the Internet with our readers.


  9. so true! sometimes you just want to work out without the pressure to have a false smile plastered across your face (as horribly anti social and plastic as that sounds). there are times when i go to the gym and socialize (some people i’ve met at the gym are super chill and we’ve actually become good friends) but sometimes, i just want to work out in solitude without feeling like everyone is staring at my ass. although there are some really cool people at the gym, there are SO many creepers. i find it degrading when guys only begin to talk to me as i begin cycling because you can see down my Hanes $5 cotton tshirt (super sexy–a real fashion statement, i know) and there is a slight glimpse of my ‘ladies’, despite doubling up on sports bras. if only i didn’t have early morning classes…on my antisocial days i’d be able to go to the gym nice and early without the worry of being a social butterfly…however that doesn’t mean there won’t be anyone who still insists on striking up a convo or paying extra attention to my goodies.

    great article, hannah! your articles are always so entertaining and so RIGHT. you’re my favorite columnist so far! (:


  10. I loved the honesty in this article…as a previous personal trainer, I have spent many days people watching in the gym. No one is known by their actual name but by the ignorant things they do…whether it is wearing freshly applied make-up to the gym, shorts that are too small or just being a douche bag. I love that Hannah is the girl that actually notices these things and writes about them rather than just falling in line with the others (like many new students will).

    I also love that this “Sir J” character claims to be a “grad student” yet has enough time for continuous back and forth about irrelevant issues. She was never attacking you…however, I know it must be hard when an article written about complete douches hits so close to home that you feel the need to lash out. Maybe the extra few years in college are needed to help him grow up.


  11. I have no idea what goes on at McNiff in the evening but in the early morning it’s not very crowded and the people who are there, are there to get in shape. I rarely see anyone talking unless it’s two young ladies who are working out together. Most of us are solo and on a mission. Some work out with personal trainers who, by the way, are awesome. I’d hate to see anyone pass up going to McNiff because of the other patrons. If you prefer a quieter, more serious crowd, join us at 7:00 a.m.


  12. This article itself was moderately entertaining, but the cat fight below was even more enteraining!! Highly recommended.

    By the way, If I remember correctly the McNiff rules require a SHIRT, and a sport bra technically fails to satisfy that requirement. Cropped camisoles and nipple-showing wife beaters are boarderlines, I guess.

    I wear workout clothes that offer decent coverege while not too restrictive. People can pick up infections, including MRSA, through skin contact on contaminated workout equipment.

    I avoid using a stationary bike or any other machine with a seat that was used by a girl wearing super short shorts unless I throughly disinfect the surface myself by soaking it with a disinfectant for at least a couple of minutes.

    Think of all the bacteria and fungi that naturally live in the female genitalia, or even worth, some STD pathogens that she may have picked up. They could all migrates to these equipment surfaces if she does not wear enough fabric to cover her crotch and upper thighs – Y U C K !


  13. Amusing.

    Julia: My name is J. My friends call me that. You may call me sir. I have written for The Minaret several times. Since some of my works are a bit controversial, I have received a wide array of feedback from freshmen to Biology professors. Not once did I feel it was necessary to emergency dial my friends to come flame people on a message board. I must have hit too close to home on my last comment to encourage such a forceful response. I would respond to your tirade, but I can’t think of one coherent sentence worthy of rebuttal in your response.

    Hannah: You are right, I do not know you. I only know what you write, and your words give me plenty of insight into how you function. Your argument revolves around how many people use the gym as an excuse to meet people. Such a concept is obvious. White lies like this are known by all except those whom are completely oblivious. It is akin to saying “people don’t just drink alcohol for it’s flavor, they really drink to become uninhibited.” Well… Duh. There are many pretexts people use which are perceived as more socially acceptable while their true motives are far different.

    Your characterization of gym enthusiasts as hollow and distracting to you was not of interest to me. What I found interesting was your lack of interest in the social aspect of the gym. It is like someone who goes to Starbucks to read, but does not wish to see or talk to people. I have been trying to figure out the motives of these people for quite some time. I do not mean the motives that these people use to justify their trip to these locations such as reading or working out. There are a plethora of alternatives to going to these places if they truly found interruptions by others so distasteful. Therefore, the only possible alternative is that they secretly enjoy these interruptions in some fashion.

    I have two working theories. One is that people just enjoy being in the company of other people. It erodes the disconnect and ambiguity that has been forced upon us by a confluence of modern issues. I believe we have a desire to be a part of a community and have a sense of belonging. The other is that these people do enjoy the ego boost of interacting with others and use a faux animosity towards those who intrude on them. They truly seek the attention, yet the attention is the end by itself. This is a way of increasing perceived social status and ego by implicitly rejecting those who attempt to forge new connections.

    But there is another type of person. One who does truly enjoy new and different people. It takes an adventurous person with enough self-confidence to where they don’t have to satiate their ego by receiving recognition from others. They are approachable and friendly and worth meeting. The girl that I have valued most in my life was met through an act of serendipity at a Rays baseball game. So I suppose I see your rebuke of meeting anonymous people at the gym as an affront to a very important part of my life.

    But you are right on one account. All acts of attention seeking are signs of insecurity and neediness to me. It is a source of external validation that fulfills a person who lacks enough internal confidence to be content with themself.


  14. I have to say, their little clique does not seem very approachable. Bitchy is another worthy adjective.


  15. Alright you mo-fo.
    Lets start with the basics.
    I happen to be a member of Hannah’s so called “snotty and unapproachable” clique of girls. And while there are a million things that come to my mind right now in regards to your moronic, unintelligent, judgmental, inappropriate, uncalled for little tirade? I will just open it up with a simple question. WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? First off, I don’t see you taking time out of your day to write articles for your school and for the entertainment and education of your fellow students. You have absolutely zero right to criticize Hannah on ANYTHING, beyond what was written in her article. You are entitled to an opinion, (not that anyone wants to hear it,) but you are granted that much in regards to policies of freedom of speech. However, while you may think, that in all of your “graduate godliness” you know everything, I assure you that you are severely mistaken. One: You don’t know Hannah personally. Hell, you don’t even have the balls to put your full name on here. You are just going by “J.” What a daring display of manliness you put on. Two: “Skanky?” Really? Once again. I say to you no. Three: “You know her type well?” Well let me assure you “J” that you don’t have one single sliver of an iota when it comes to Hannah. You don’t know what she has been through, you don’t know how LOYAL of a friend she is, and how much she is worth fighting for. Four: I can promise you, that Hannah has plenty of friends at WORK, at SCHOOL, AND, on her sports teams. Hannah does not go out to bars. Hannah does not get wasted. And she does not ‘skank’ out of bars with feelings of isolation. Though I must admit, I was impressed by your seemingly vast array of knowledge and descriptive ability in this area… Perhaps from personal experience?
    But moving on from that, whats more, in regards to Hannah’s ability to connect with people? Just because she isn’t ‘connecting’ with you, doesn’t mean she is not connecting with the rest of us. And if her apparent views are making it ‘uncomfortable’ for you? Well guess what, no one ASKED you to go out to dinner with her. You aren’t required to be gym buddies. You didn’t even have to read this article. Frankly, I am having a difficult time understanding how Hannah’s views of the gym make you uncomfortable. Maybe because she is calling out certain people – perhaps even such as yourself- who have these apparent ulterior motives for going to the gym. And what the hell is this “the world does not revolve around you” crap? I’m rereading the article now and gee. Thats funny, I don’t recall reading ANYTHING pertaining to the solar system, the universe, or anything remotely falling on your so called global scale. Her “poor attitude” is merely an OPINION, meant for ENTERTAINMENT, that you don’t agree with because it differs with yours.
    And your grad program? Ooh. Big guy. I’m scared. Really? I mean really. If you are such an ‘great mind’ then why don’t you get up off your graduate school computer chair, walk into your graduate school bathroom, CHANGE YOUR TAMPON, PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES, and come back and actually OWN UP to what you are saying. You have absolutely no right to judge anyone by their opinions. You have never even met Hannah. Which frankly, as of now, has me saying prayers of thank you up to the high heavens, that she has never had to meet such a low down, insensitive, uncaring, haughty, pompous, arrogant asshole such as yourself. You are the reason, there is a “Y” in the phrase “Y Chromosome.” Your existence is merely questionable. And you would think, by graduate school, assuming this is even your first time attempting it, that you would at LEAST have grown a little bit of maturity and decency as a man. However apparently that seems to be as stunted as your ping pong sized balls.
    And let me make this clear “J.” My friend? Is not bitchy. My friend, is not a skank. My friend, is the absolute reciprocal of everything you just proclaimed her to be. And as for those few skeezy guys you were referring to? Well hey, I think you just earned yourself a number one spot on your own list. Way to take charge and head up the club. Leave Hannah alone. Back the hell off. And try to go learn something that goes deeper than academic education when you make your way back to class on Monday.

    P.S. – for the cramps i am assuming you are getting with your period, i recommend a nice warm heating pad and some midol. and just to be on the safe side, you can make a trip to the doctors office, i hear they are giving out free reality checks. ❤


  16. This was amazing! Fantastic article Hannah! I find your writing entertaining, even your comments made me laugh quite a bit. Keep it up 🙂


  17. Hannah, you are a kick ass writer and this asshole is the kid that probably got picked on in high school and now needs reassurance by receiving male attention, or if this person is a male, female attention. Thats the only reason I can fathom going to the gym wearing nothing but a sports bra and booty shorts. for attention.
    You are a fucking rad writer and don’t let this douche bring you down doll.


    It made me giggle and at the same time feel better that I’m not one of those girls at the gym who dresses.. not gym-like! And personally, I honestly don’t care what boys think of me when I’m working out. I’m down to get disgusting and sweaty if it means helping out my body a little. I look like what I look like when I go to the gym, and that’s all I have to say about that.


  19. J,
    While the story you have created about me in your head is mildly entertaining, it astounds me how wrong you are about me as a person. What you claim is actually the exact opposite of what most say about me. I’ve made some of my best friends at work, school, and yes, on sports teams. Perhaps you’d like to believe I fit into the category of ranting party girls that “skank out at clubs” so you can easily dismiss my writing and my opinion for your own satisfaction. Though you may be in a graduate program– and pompous enough to think it means anything about you as a person or your ability to differentiate between spelling and grammar– your maturity doesn’t seem to extend past high school. I love to meet new people, no matter where I meet them, and am always open to new opportunities. I’m sure you would know this had you ever actually met me, which you seem to forget you have not. You’ve completely missed the point of my article, but I guess I shouldn’t expect much from someone who says “the world doesn’t revolve around you.” Thank you for reminding me of the lessons my elementary school teachers so avidly taught. Did I ever say other people at the gym are an inconvenience? No. I’m simply making observations about the social setting of the gym and how men and women behave on their own and with others. Did I ever say the gym needs to change? NO. I see how things are, accept them, and continue with my own routine. There is no “poor attitude” to be left at the door and I’m fully aware people don’t go to the gym to see me in my sweats. I love socializing, and I don’t mind talking to people about common interests when I’m working out. You appear to believe that I am an anti-social monster that’s fighting for reform. The fact that THAT is what you took out of my article astonishes me.


  20. Well Miss Hannah,

    Thank you for your critique of my spelling. However, I highly doubt many people would call me an idiot. I doubt the grad program I am currently attending wants to believe they allow inferior minds to attend.

    Your writing smells of elitism. I know your type well, and I can already tell you will never develop any meaningful relationships with someone who was anonymous to you previously. I can just tell from the way that you write that you don’t make friends at work, school, or on a sports team. You more than likely have your little clique of girls who are all snotty and unapproachable. You then go out to bars, get entirely too wasted, and overcompensate for the feeling of isolation that you undoubtedly feel by skanking out at clubs.

    It is readily apparent that you do not have the ability to make a connection with people you don’t intimately know and you have no idea how tragic that is that you won’t experience the energy that someone completely unknown and new to you can bring into your life. Some of my best memories were with people I had just met.

    Now I know there are some skeezy guys out there, but when you project those few unfortunate circumstances onto everyone else it is just bitchy. You are making it uncomfortable for those of us who enjoy the company of others. Some of us are not misanthropes.

    Finally, the world does not revolve around you. People do not goto the gym to see if you will be there. The gym will not change and should not change to acquiesce to your impulse to go be isolated in the company of others. You do not have to work out at the gym (which is horrendously undersized and is bound to make you bump into others.) A gym is a social place. You are in the company of others; it is an opportunity, not an inconvenience. If only you would park your poor attitude at the door you might be able to enjoy it for what it can be.


  21. I don’t consider myself to be a cookie cutter attractive girl, so I actually relish the little attention I get from anyone in the gym (and working up a genuine sweat tends to keep people away anyhow). I enjoy working out to relieve my stress, get in shape, and get a bit of studying done (yeah, it makes the time go by really quickly, actually!) So glad that Hannah has pointed out the obvious that a lot of other people on campus have noticed. I know girls who refuse to go to the gym because the guys are too territorial over their weights, so they just don’t bother. Another observation; why do the guys work on their arms all day but neglect their legs? Apparently I didn’t get the memo that being horribly disproportionate is attractive.


  22. J,
    If the gym is your main place to socialize, please continue to do so. Most people like to find more appropriate places to make friends, like work, school, or sports teams. But by all means, if the only time you can force someone to engage in conversation is when they’re stuck on the treadmill next to you, I encourage you to continue making friends at the gym. I’m sure you all have a lot in common. By your grammar, it’s easy to see that you spend a lot more time in the gym than with your books anyway. Oh, and for the record, I’m fairly certain that when a guy approaches me while I’m stretching and says, “You can do that move in my bedroom anytime,” is doing more than giving “a friendly hello.” Though being hit on by tools does little to boost my ego, I’m sure it does much for yours. Anyway, thank you for proving my point about the main type of people that populate the fitness center that you are so eager to defend. Have fun getting hit on while you lift your 3 lb weights and burn 20 calories on the treadmill. Thanks for the comment!


  23. If you believe the gyms proper function is being usurped by being a place where people can meet, you should probably get a shapes membership. The gym is one of the rare few places you can meet new people, and I’ve made several guy friends in the gym as well. I suggest for the antisocial the track or buying a Few dumbbells so you can work out in your room. No one forces you to the gym which subjects yourself to all this unwanted attention. But then you wouldn’t have the opportunity to build your ego from scorning the perceived advance when a guy offers a friendly hello. Why women think they build their status by being stand offish with a guy who asks “how long until your done” baffles me. It doesn’t make you exclusive, just unfriendly.


  24. You are a fantastic writer.


  25. Runnaroundd // September 16, 2010 at 8:25 am //

    Hilarious article! I could picture everything you were talking about. Awesome job!


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