Some changes are much needed at the university gym


Ana Eckert, Contributing Writer

I would like to begin this opinion piece with a couple of disclaimers.

One: I’m not what one would call a “gym rat.” I’m a very casual gym-goer and do so mainly to stay in shape. There are probably aspects of gym culture that I do not understand.

Two: I do not speak for every female-identifying student here at Bucknell and can only speak on my experience as a white female in the gym a couple of times a week.

Three: I am, relatively speaking, rather thin. It is important to acknowledge that people in larger bodies often have a more challenging experience in the gym because of the prejudices of other gym-goers. I cannot speak on this experience and wanted to point out the confines of my perspective. 

However, there isn’t often discourse about our fitness center outside of the occasional YikYak complaining that the “15s are missing again.” (For the record, they don’t go missing. Sometimes people move them downstairs. Just go and bring them back up.) So here is my perspective. 

The first thing I ever noticed about the fitness center was that the free weights went up by intervals of five pounds. Perhaps I was just spoiled by my gym back home, where the weights went up by two-and-a-half pounds, but it did make my gym experience a bit more complicated. I’ve found it difficult to move from 10 pounds to 15 pounds or from 15 to 20 pounds on exercises that require smaller muscle groups.

I think a set of 12.5s, 17.5s and even 22.5s would allow more people to increase their progress, particularly on isolated upper body exercises. Not having these in-between weights make it harder for effective progressive overload. 

And I do not think I am the only person you can find who is frustrated by the lack of equipment in our fitness center. With only two squat racks and a handful of benches in the free weight room, I can sometimes spend 15 minutes just waiting for the space to open up. For all the money we pay to go to this school and use this gym, I cannot help but think that the resources available to students should be top-of-the-line and readily available.

The leg extension machine comes to mind, which has been out of order since last semester. 

While on the topic of workout machines, I’d like to point out that they are so obviously made for men, by men. More often than not, I find that there are not enough settings to properly fit my height and size, making it incredibly difficult to achieve proper range of motion.

I think about it every time I sit down to do pull downs; the seat does not come up high enough to adequately fit my thighs. Though this is more of an industry issue and not so much Bucknell’s fault. 

But Bucknell can still definitely make some improvements. My first suggestion would be to add more weights, particularly ones in the five to 30 pounds range. This would make it easier for beginners to workout and effectively make progress. While you’re at it, throw a couple more benches upstairs; maybe rearrange some equipment and add another squat rack.

I think making it easier to complete a full workout will encourage more people to come into the fitness center and foster a better environment. Finally, I recommend having more ways to sanitize machines and weights. Cleanliness is still so important, particularly in a gym, and having wipes or a towel within arms reach will increase the chances that the average goer wipes down the machines after they are done. 

My final thought is for anyone who is worried or insecure about going to the fitness center. Gyms have a reputation for being intimidating, and I totally understand, but I still recommend trying it out. Most everyone is too busy focusing on their own workout and music to notice you and any mistakes you think you’re making.

People are, for the most part, respectful, though there is the occasional student who spends forever on one exercise. You’ll have to forgive me, but I can’t for the life of me understand what they’re doing for 30 minutes and five sets. Maybe go on a Saturday afternoon when it’s always pretty empty (I wonder why…). And feel free to ask for my pop girl workout playlist. Lizzo is guaranteed to push you through that last rep. 

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