Chronicle: An honors thesis on my experience at the student recreation center

There are few men I take seriously.

My dad probably most often, then my boyfriend about half the time. All other cases are just based on my initial snap judgments and then I go from there.

I had to start with that so you know my personal biases. I try not to lean into it too much and take every male specimen with a grain of salt, but let me tell you.

It’s very hard to take men seriously at the student recreation center.

I don’t want anyone getting hurt because really, I’m an opinion writer barely working to hide behind my computer. To clear up any possible confusion: I really admire people who have the motivation to hit the gym every day.

The concept has always seemed totally impossible to me because I severely avoid exercise. That was until my best friend became a personal trainer, and I realized I had trouble lifting things my 13-year-old cousin could lift easily. I signed up for eight sessions and prepared for a journey into the unknown.

It made me feel comfortable having my own personal guide in this foreign environment. I didn’t even have to scan my OneCard when I entered the gym. I just kept my eyes glued (pun intended) to the back of my friend’s workout shirt on campus and followed her inside.

Becoming a regular at the gyms fed my superiority complex. The breeze through the turnstile only added to it.

I don’t know how many of you have been or often attend the SRC, but immediately after entering you are thrown into the midst of chaos.

The thrust was an intentional choice there, as there are so many of them. Pushing weights, pushing your muscles into people’s faces, pushing your phone in all directions to capture her hot body from all angles. It’s what I nicknamed the “ground floor”, and it’s almost like a circus.

There are men in little to no clothing, people on machines at odd angles, and a steady chorus of grunts, snaps, and even guttural screams. I don’t often stay there long, but when I have an extended stay, it’s a feast for the eyes. Stares and laughter often interrupt my friend’s instructions and my own training.

Upstairs is infinitely more relaxed, so we start there almost every day. It’s calmer, less performative and more tolerant. At least, that’s what I understood. A gym brother might cross your path, but he knows his place.

It is quiet. It’s calming. It prepares you for the ground floor, which you have already seen but have not ventured into.

The women of the CBC are the real champions, including my personal best friend coach. They move in silence. They are not efficient. They show up in their fabulous training outfits (SRC fashion is a world apart) and do it, no push.

I told my friend that she should open a gym for women only, but in reality it would deprive me of entertainment mid-workout.

The SRC men are mixed. There are some unassuming guys I respect from afar, but there are others with cropped shirts and thighs galore, adorned with chunky silver jewelry and quintessential Gen Z hair (messy but not too much messy).

Those are the growlers and the thrusters, but to be quite frank, my experience wouldn’t be the same without them. They have the lead role on the SRC show and I’m just a skinny member of the ensemble.

I completed my eight sessions in a few weeks and will be signing up for more. The CBC and its cast of characters have grown inside of me, and while I don’t think I’ll ever truly be a part of them, I get both entertainment and inspiration from their presence.

I also find comfort in the freedom to look at yourself in the mirror as much as you want and no one thinks you’re vain, but that’s just between you and me.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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