We’re two weeks into the spring semester, and it still feels pretty new. At this point I could go on into how it’s my last semester at Pomona, etc etc, but I won’t. Instead I will tell you about how even in my last semester there are still things at Pomona that are new for me. Case in point: the weight room at the gym.
Now, I wouldn’t describe myself as athletic under any circumstances, but my friends and I have a tradition of Saturday morning workouts on the ellipticals so it’s not like I’ve never been in the gym before. I go there all the time, not only to run but also for hip hop, and previously for zumba. It’s not a space I ever felt uncomfortable in.
However, the one place I had never gone was the weight room. It always felt like I didn’t belong there. This is something my female friends and I had talked about a lot, and it seems like a very gendered space. There are often women in the weight room, I suppose, but my gym experience feels like mostly women use the ellipticals and treadmills, and the weight room is always full of muscular men. Maybe among athletes who work out on the machines regularly it feels different, but for us casual users I, as a not-so-in-shape female, never felt comfortable going into the weight room. Maybe it is silly but that’s how I felt.
This past weekend, though, a female friend wanted to use one of the machines so I finally ventured in with her. The room wasn’t too crowded and using the machines was totally fine. Perhaps I was worried over nothing. I actually know how to use most of the different kinds of machines from previous gym experience, but I still probably wouldn’t go in there alone. I guess I just don’t want to feel incompetent lifting minimal weights surrounded or awkward trying to adjust the seat to my height. I know a lot of female Pomona students really appreciate the rare opportunity to visit the Scripps gym (which you can access if you have a Scripps friend check you in, and perhaps also if you pay a fee) because all the machines there are designed for women and it seems like a more welcoming space for them.
So the gym stands as an interesting physical location, centered on the body, to ponder issues of gender.