The Cavalier Daily
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Glamour or grind?

Aquatic Fitness Center desk attendant Mohsin Reza was baffled.

"So many girls go into the bathroom before coming to the desk," Reza said. "What the hell are they doing in there? Primping?"

It was Friday afternoon and the AFC was chock full of stereotypes for which the University's most modern gym is known: biker shorts and New Balance sneakers, Stairmaster fiends and female students reading Vogue while glancing toward the guys on the first floor.

About a half-mile away at Memorial Gym, a muscle-bound male student completes his daily free-weight routine, oblivious to his surroundings.

These two scenes are indicative of the gym stereotypes by which fitness-conscious University students abide.

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    Any student dedicated to a gym workout will vouch for the fact that each of the University's facilities seems to have a distinct personality that fits its patrons.

    Jonathon Hill, Memorial Gym desk attendant and fifth-year Commerce student said mostly "big guys" come in to use the free weights at Memorial Gym.

    "The most girls I see at any given time is about 15, and they use the bikes more than the free weights," Hill said.

    If gyms won superlatives, the AFC might win the "social butterfly" award as the place people go to be seen working out, possibly by members of the opposite sex.

    The AFC has two levels with a wide range of cardiovascular workout machines, free weights, an Olympic- sized pool and an offering of various fitness classes. At any given time, AFC televisions may be tuned in to MTV or re-runs of "Beverly Hills 90210." There is an obvious social yet athletic air to the place.

    The crowds that flock to the AFC cause parking problems and long lines for equipment, giving students time and an excuse to exercise their social skills.

    But all stereotypes aside, students are also attracted to the spacious and brightly-lit AFC for reasons other than socializing. Dedicated to maintaining their physical health, many students develop a routine and can be seen at the AFC at the same time every day.

    Denise Farley, third-year College student and member of the women's cross-country team said the other gyms do not have as much variety in the types of machines. She likes how the AFC has everything in one place in addition to a swimming pool.

    "The AFC has a more athletic feel and appeal," Farley said. "I like it because it's more open and not claustrophobic like the other gyms."

    Matt Cullen, another third-year College student, said going to the AFC was a matter of convenience for him, but he did see how the stereotypes were true. He said he frequently noticed people wearing, "those special workout outfits" and said there is often a lot of socializing among guys in the first floor free-weight area.

    The crowds and long lines at the AFC seem to be what drive people to venture to the University's other three gyms. Nearby Slaughter Gym would win the award for "the AFC overflow/basketball players" gym. While Slaughter is much smaller and does not boast as much equipment variety as the AFC, the basketball courts attract players of all levels.

    Fifth-year College graduate student Richard Dixon is one of those who is turned off by AFC crowds and likes to play basketball at Slaughter. He said what a gym has in the way of equipment is more important than the atmosphere but has definite opinions about the University's four gyms.

    "Slaughter and Mem Gym smell bad ... North Grounds is not as 'macho' as Mem or the AFC," Dixon said.

    Even students who are not faithful to a gym routine are aware of the stereotypes that exist with regard to the University's fitness facilities. Second-year College student Carrie Altman darkened the doors of Slaughter for the first time last Friday. She does not frequent any of the gyms, but has her own labels for the facilities, comparing the AFC's atmosphere to that of a middle-school dance.

    "I don't go for the whole sex segregation thing," she said of the tendency for girls to work out on the second floor of the AFC, while the guys congregate downstairs.

    The AFC crowds also discourage third-year College student Sarah Hansen, who went to North Grounds Gym for the first time on the advice of a friend who said it was never crowded.

    In Hanson's ideal gym, "I don't have to wait in line for a bike or a Nautilus machine," she said.

    For those desperately attempting to squeeze in an hour of workout time, the AFC doesn't seem to make the grade.

    North Grounds Gym, the neighbor of the Darden and Law School, also attracts those driven off by the swarms at the AFC. It would win the award as the "fitness for grads" gym, since most of its patrons are graduate students. Smaller and quieter than the AFC, North Grounds' racquetball courts offer another recreational alternative.

    Julia Yachmenev, a second-year Law student, said that she goes to the AFC for aerobics classes, but that North Grounds is closer to her and is never as crowded. She said she is comfortable in either atmosphere, but at North Grounds there are more graduate students and more people intent on working out rather than checking out other people.

    Andy Rexrobe, North Grounds desk attendant and fourth-year College student, voiced his opinion on the matter saying, "North Grounds isn't a fashion show like the AFC."

    The final award goes to Memorial Gym as the "place for jocks."

    As the University's oldest gym, it opened in 1923 to memorialize University students who lost their lives in World War I. Though it is located conveniently near Central Grounds, students looking for a social workout environment pass it by because of its more intense atmosphere.

    Third-year College student Teresa Cooper, a Memorial Gym desk attendant, said the atmosphere at Mem is definitely not as social, but has more of an "older, professional style."

    "The people who come here know what they are doing with the machines," Cooper said of the well-seasoned athletes who frequent Memorial Gym.

    "Mem is not as pretty," said second-year College student CeCe Williams, who is a member of the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

    "With all the different things I train for, it's nice to get a change of scenery and see different people at each gym," Williams said.

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