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Sunday, May 16, 2021

UF students can't escape the pressure of being healthy because there are reminders lurking in the shadows everywhere we turn.

We have jogging route paths, GatorWell tents and an alcohol education course. And now the price of sugary sodas has increased. It is impossible to ignore the message. OK, we get it. We'll put down the chicken fingers and hit the gym.

Too bad the gym at UF is also known as The Scariest Place On Earth.

Here at UF, I have discovered the existence of an alternate human species. I like to call them Really Fit People. These almost mythical creatures can be difficult to identify because their main habitat is The Scariest Place on Earth.

In theory, the gym is a place where average people can go to de-stress and sweat off the entire box of Cheez-Its consumed throughout the day. But at UF, the gym is where Really Fit People go to improve their capacity to lift extremely heavy objects and stare at other Really Fit People.

I've been to the gym on numerous occasions, and on each trip I've suffered from a mini-social disaster.

The first time I went - I swear I'm not making this up - I almost got attacked over a treadmill. While I was using the machine, a girl approached me and demanded that I get off. "I reserved this treadmill for 4:30. I need to use the treadmill now," she exclaimed. Unsure of what to do, I politely replied, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it was 4:30 already." As I stepped down from the black platform, I attempted a weak smile, and scurried away from the machine as fast as possible so she wouldn't claw me to death.

Since I was banned from the cardio room, I decided to work on my buns and thighs instead. But at the Southwest Recreation Center, the weight room is the size of a small planet.

All across the weight room, the muscular population performs really strange exercises to keep themselves in other-worldly shape. They use medicine balls, elastic bands, extremely heavy weights and other contraptions that if I were to use them would probably cause me bodily harm.

To make matters worse, all of the machines have special levers, knobs and buttons you have to adjust in order to maximize your workout.

Most machines have pictures to make things easier, but the illustrations are just there to confuse people. Because of these complications, it takes me an average of 15 minutes to figure out how each machine works before I can actually use it.

After adjusting the knobs and positioning my body to what I thought was the correct angle, another girl came up to me and asked when I would be done. "I haven't started yet," I replied. "Well, uh, you've been on that machine for a while," she said. Mortified, I exited the machine and left the gym in order to avoid further exercise embarrassment.

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UF makes services such as personal training and nutrition counseling available to students. Instead of bombarding all students with health reminders and exercise tips, UF could let us ask for these services if we want them. I don't need a guilt trip every time I order my latte with whipped cream, and I don't need to feel worse about myself every time I go to the gym.

Colleen Shea is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column appears on Fridays.

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