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Davis, California

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Column: P-P-Push it

I had a discussion section this quarter, where, on the first day, we were supposed to tell the class something we liked to do. Of course, all that could come to my mind was, “Hi. My name is Lena and I like to drink.” When my turn came around, I managed to mumble something about liking to go running, making me look like some sort of exercise freak who lives huddled under one of the awnings outside the ARC. And I’m sure these people exist, because when I go to the ARC I see the same people every time. They must live there. There is no other explanation. Anyway, instead of ranting on the imperfections of college students, this week I’ll be talking social dynamics at our local gym.

I’ll start with gym etiquette. First, be aware of the gender line. Girls run on the treadmills or look super cute gyrating on the ellipticals. Boys do something impressive with those scary looking machines. And then toward the middle of the evening two brave souls can go slow dance three feet apart to a Natalie Imbruglia song – oh wait, that was middle school. You get the point.

Since I generally stay away from any exercise machine larger than myself, there’s really only a small corner of that weight room that I’ve explored. It’s the one with the ab mats and the weights in the under-10-pound category. My ab workouts consist of checking out other people to see what they’re doing, and then trying to simulate their moves so that I look like I know what I’m doing but not like I’m copying them. This usually leads to some sort of creative semblance of knee-jerks and elbow twists that end up with me flailing on the mat like a beached carp or as though I’m pioneering some fancy new horizontal tarantella. But bikini season is just around the corner, so as I huff and puff, I tell myself to imagine the Rec Pool, bronzed bodies clad in tiny swim wear and alcohol and hormones flowing from every pore like wine at Bacchus’ birthday party. I’ve got to be ready.

As for arms, I grab the heaviest weights I can manage and again, try to look like I know what I’m doing. This usually involves heavy breathing and the occasional, “Oh yeah, feel the burn baby!” Sure, I get some weird looks, but it’s the price you pay for looking like a badass at the gym. Of course, every now and then I have an off-day (I’m only human), in which case it’s best just to give up.

The other day, I was having a really tough workout, which I attributed to the fact that I had a five-pounder in each hand. Then I realized they were both 2.5-pounders. I think that’s what is called a “fail of epic proportions,” so I decided I’d just go home and get a beer instead.

Here’s another tip: resist the urge to pick wedgies or otherwise do something blatantly unattractive while at the gym, because you never know who is watching. And if that doesn’t scare you, here are some statistics: 63 percent of people find gym-goers more attractive than non-gym-goers, 75 percent of people meet their future spouse(s) at the gym and 91 percent of people find wedgie-picking a major turn-off. So it’s important to look sexy. The next time you’re about to hit the treadmills, ditch the “A vampire in Forks, Washington loves me” T-shirt and reach for the mascara and teeny tank instead.

Which leads me to a gym “Do”: Do hit on fellow gym-goers using lines like, “Do you know how to work this thing?” (interpret as you will), “Want to racket my balls?” (only for the very bold), “What’s your sign?” or anything involving the phrase “gun show.” The gym is teeming with ready and willing, toned, supple bodies. All you have to do is flex right and you’ve got one snagged.

The UC Davis ARC is a microcosm of our university; therefore, it is important to put your best foot forward when hitting the gym. No, of course I don’t mean exercise so you can boost your self-esteem or get healthy or whatever else working out supposedly “achieves.” The gym is like the Oscars, or Saint Whoever’s Charity Ball to support the generally-less-fortunate-and-underprivileged. Everybody who’s anybody will be there. Make sure you are too, and practice that (completely unintentional!) sexy hamstring stretch before you go.

LENA PRESSESKY can be reached at lmpressesky@ucdavis.edu.

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