The jungle of gym

Fitness fiends and their friends on Grounds

With classes adjourning Friday for Spring Break, thousands of University students will embark on travels across the globe. Though some will head west or north with the slopes in sight, and others — this bi-weekly columnist included — will head homeward for some much needed R&R, there is one image alone that typifies collegiate Spring Break: a warm getaway to the tropical beach of your choosing.

Yes, it seems returning to Grounds in a week with a tan overwhelms the importance of returning with an adequate level of sleep or even the slightest absence of a hangover. However, a trip to the beach for a week of fun and sun would not be possible without three things: a heightened tolerance for day drinking, a kind financial benefactor — or an impulse to throw all savings to the wind — and, most importantly, a rocking beach bod.

Whether you’re modeling your jammers in Jamaica or your bikini in Belize, a toned physique will prove most handy in courting those whom you meet on your equatorial excursions. Besides, without your University ID at your side, how else will these clueless vacationers understand your status as an elite student of Mr. Jefferson’s University?

So for those of you just now venturing into the land of the fit and famous, ready to shave off those few extra pounds accumulated at the White Spot in anticipation of competition with shirtless guys galore, here’s a short heads-up on what to expect when swiping your card at an on-Grounds gym.

A workout facility confirms stereotypes rather than dispels them. Upon first walking through the doors of your facility of choice, you most likely will spot men struggling with a quandary of epic proportions: how to properly rock a bro-tank in the winter cold.

Plugged into the latest edition of Beats earbuds, these juiced-up giants can prove to be quite the distraction for the uninitiated. Visually, they appear both imposing and hilarious. Abiding by the “less is more” mantra in the wardrobe department, they lurk throughout the gym, searching for empty machines and mirrors into which they’ll gaze, hoping to witness a particular muscle catch a special glint of light.

Audibly, they do not disappoint. Enveloped in their musical world of thumping rap and inspiring electronica, our miniature hulks seem to barely realize the grunting noises they make in the midst of their heavy lifting. I’ll admit, at first it’s scary. Not only do they emit indecipherable grunts, but they also communicate in their own language: “Yo man gimme a spot?” or, “Got that extra whey protein maximum set gain potential?”

Mostly kind at heart, these gym stalwarts need not be evaded. However, if one chooses to distance himself from the toned titans, avoiding the free weight room — a potent mix of both heavy weights and lots of mirrors — should do the trick.

Equally strange are the army of stationary runners, men and women alike pounding away for tens of minutes at a time in an attempt to earn as much cardio and burn as much of a beer belly as possible. All this is accomplished, of course, while maintaining a composed look on one’s face. Do not succumb to intimidation, though, upon encountering their inexplicably sweat-free faces as they happily swing one leg in front of the other, the daytime talk show of their choice idly playing on their screens.

No matter the purpose of your visits to the gym or the frequency with which you make them, you will encounter a cross section of the larger population on Grounds. Diversity among patrons ensures no man or woman will feel excluded from sharpening their swimsuit season looks. Who knows — on a visit of your own, you may even spot an old friend there, only to spot the same friend straight flexin’ on Instagram a week or two later.

Aidan’s column runs biweekly Fridays. He can be reached at

Published March 6, 2014 in Life

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