The Henry Crown Sports Pavilion, colloquially known as SPAC — or, as I like to call it, the building blocking my room in Bobb from having a lake view — has been staring me down ever since I first set foot on campus. I’ve intentionally avoided our free, easily accessible, state-of-the-art workout facilities for months now. Why, you ask? Well, my aversion to the gym could be credited to many things, like my recent three-year stint on the no-cut high school freshman tennis team or my soccer career record of one goal scored (on our own goal). Perhaps, most importantly, I have no idea how to go to the gym. Ironically, this is the very curiosity that finally forced me through the shining glass doors of the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion.
To give some context for my pre-SPAC routine: I woke up, downed two Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts (my body is a temple) and spent the hours leading up to my 4:30 p.m. appointment for the second-floor fitness space fending off visions of the Chloe Ting protégés and pre-workout enthusiasts waiting for me within. 4:30 was the appointment time with the fewest slots taken, ideal for the inexperienced and anxious gym-goer. All hail online booking!
When 4:30 rolled around, I hit my first snag: shoes. Everyone knows the most important part of going to the gym is your outfit, and I had my “I come here often” look down to a T, except for the shoes. Is it sacrilege to wear dirty AF1s to the gym? Probably, so I broke out my untouched New Balances and took off in the direction of my destiny.
I was welcomed into SPAC with startling efficiency, no time for small talk with the desk attendants about “gains,” “getting swole” or our favorite protein shake recipes. To my chagrin, my gym-bro Urban Dictionary research proved unnecessary. Upon entering, I immediately took a wrong turn, got lost and had to backtrack. I eventually ended up on the second floor, staring down an assemblage of unfamiliar machinery.
The key to a successful gym performance — besides the outfit — is the soundtrack. So I set my Spotify to private listening mode to preserve my music superiority complex and, in the spirit of imitating a real gym-goer, queued up the Spotify-curated “Workout Twerkout” playlist. I hate to say it, but that playlist, which is chock-full of TikTok anthems like “Asthma Pump” (How fitting!) by Tay Money, does the job. I had only ever heard snippets of Cardi B’s “Up” from the room next to me, followed by “Oh my God, that’s gonna go viral,” but in lieu of the natural urge to blast my abs, it provides ample motivation.
I started out on the elliptical. I know it is by far the lamest choice when trying to explore the gym, but I had the most fun on it. I embarked on a virtual hiking course, a picturesque journey through one of New Zealand’s geological wonders: the Pancake Rocks. I chose this trail for the name, obviously.
I was dreaming of fluffy, buttery carbs before I even set off on my computer-automated hike. Unfortunately, the 5-by-3-inch screen is not conducive to selfies at the vistas.
After my elliptical journey and a quick foray on the StairMaster (I kept tripping up the stairs), I was ready to be back on solid ground. So, I headed to the weights section (Is that even what it’s called? I’m just making shit up). There is no start button in the weight room, so you really have to know what you’re doing. I headed for a bench because I like to sit. Head down, shoulders hunched to hide my screen and my weight room ineptitude, I furiously searched for “weights workout” and then “weights workout easy” and then “weights workout bench easy.”
The easiest part was choosing a weight. I stuck with the lightest available option: a 10-pound dumbbell. The hardest part was staring down my reflection in three separate mirrors that documented every angle of my ill-informed recreation of step-by-step drawings I pulled from Google Images. That being said, my formal recommendation for second-floor weight room rookies is to come with a plan.
Next, I turned the corner and approached the intimidating line of treadmills. After struggling to find the power button, the ground took off from beneath me, and I was on my way at a strange medium between walking and running.
I upped the pace to overcome this awkward transitional speed, and suddenly I was an antelope, speeding away from the cheetah that was my doom should I misstep and fly off the track. I kept my feet moving by picturing the things I’m most afraid of chasing me: a giant spider, my sophomore-year chemistry teacher, a suspiciously energetic group of PAs during Wildcat Welcome and the Theta sisters. It worked, but is intentionally subjecting myself to that kind of fear worth it? I think runner’s high is made up by runners to make their sport seem cool.
And almost as soon as my gym foray began, it came to a close. I wiped down my last machine, taking a final glance at the conglomeration of metal and handles and a trampoline that read “Please use EXTREME CAUTION when using the rebounder on the Synrgy 360.” I followed this guideline and used extreme caution by not even approaching it.
Finally, to my fellow anti-SPACers, fear not, for there is a gym shark in all of us. More importantly, check which reservation slots are least populated. And to my SPAC enthusiasts, I respect you, but I no longer envy you. It is literally so boring in there.