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Fitness in the United States during the National Period was influenced by European cultures. Immigrants brought many aspects of their heritage to the United States, including German and Swedish gymnastics. German and Swedish gymnastic programs failed to attain the same levels of popularity as in Europe. Early leaders in the United States were conscious of the need for exercise and fitness (Mechikoff 189). Benjamin Franklin recommended regular physical activity, including running, swimming, and basic forms of resistance training for health purposes. President Thomas Jefferson acknowledged the necessity for fitness, although maybe to a somewhat extreme measure: ³Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather shall be little regarded. If the body is feeble, the mind will not be strong" (Dalleck, Kravitz). Physical activity in general is the best thing for the human body. Cardiovascular disease can be reduced with physical activity, but yet twenty-four percent of Americans of the age of eighteen or older are not active (Physical Stats). People wonder why they are in such bad shape or health, but it is humorous because by just doing some exercise it can reduce the factors of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking. Americans wonder why cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, but in reality they are just too lazy to do the work and put the time in, but instead like to watch television, instead of going outside and being physically active. Forever Focusing on Fitness
Breathe in, breathe out. These two concepts possibly might be the most important focuses of going to a gym and especially lifting weights. There are two things that people picture when they hear the word gym, some people think of a country club like atmosphere which has sport fields and courts, spas, pools, and other luxurious qualities; others think weights, running equipment, and other basic quality things to get people in shape to better themselves. I will be focusing on the ³basic´ gym. The gym is a place where you can just relieve stress and stay in shape, but personally in my opinion to have fun. Obviously most people go to the gym to better themselves by lifting weights, doing yoga or abdominal workouts, using elliptical or nautilus machines, or running on a treadmill, but do they actually enjoy going? The gym, for me is a place I can go to have a good workout that I enjoy. The main reason of going is to become healthier and exercise, but the gym is part of my daily schedule. I have a very high interest in getting into shape and learning more about how to become stronger and healthier by going into the gym, hence why I chose to be an exercise science and health fitness major. I hope when I am in my older years I can still workout consistently and be like Jack Lalanne. Fitness pioneer, LaLanne was ahead of his time in advocating the benefits of a healthy lifestyle focused on nutrition and exercise, The Jack LaLanne Show was the first fitness show on TV and ran for more than 30 years. He was the first to develop weight machines that he sold on TV and health spas that were precursors to today's public gyms. At age 70, he towed 70 boats, accompanying 70 people for a mile-and-a-half through Long Beach Harbor handcuffed and shackled. Jack LaLanne passed away, January 23, 2011, at the age of 96 (McGuire). With this very high interest I will be conducting interviews with gym members and also studying people while they are at the gym exercising.
The Thornburg Gym located at Bridgewater State University, in the Tinsley Center, is what I will be researching for my ethnography project. I chose this site because for the past two years my second home has become the gym. My brother, who is twenty-three, right now, got me interested and hooked to lifting weights and becoming physically stronger, when I was about seventeen. My brother and I have a special bond with each other and are pretty much best friends and one thing that we always do together is go to the gym. We can spend countless amounts of time at the gym and not even realize that we have been there for two hours. I am legit a gym rat, my friends will always bash on me because I am always at the gym at least once a day. It is a time for me to be relaxed and calming and just lift weights. It makes me feel good to lift weights and I can feel good about myself knowing that I¶m bettering myself by working out. I get an adrenaline rush to just work out and I truly enjoy it because it makes me feel good about myself as a whole. I might be possibly working in a gym after I graduate and get out of college as a personal trainer or possibly a physical therapist which will make me thoroughly enjoy my occupation even more. I believe that having a job you enjoy is much better than trying to be filthy rich with a job that you cannot stand. I have come to realize that the price for the Thornburg Gym is ridiculously cheap which only costs one hundred dollars for a yearly membership when most gym memberships such as the legendary Gold¶s Gym ranges from twenty-five to thirty dollars a month which adds up to two hundred and forty dollars a year minimum. There are in fact different gyms that cost less, but the cheapest gym in the area, Planet Fitness, charges ten dollars a month which is onehundred and twenty dollars a year. The price you pay for a gym membership at the Thornburg Gym is a steal; you cannot get a better price, but is the cheap price just for students? The Thornburg Gym has everything you need in a gym and new equipment that is waiting and
wanting to be used. I¶ve also noticed that the gym is somewhat empty from the hours of seven in the morning to four in the afternoon which is why I always go to the gym to around two-thirty in the afternoon. From four to eight is when the gym is most populated.
Muscle heads, gorilla juice heads, and steroid users are all common nicknames to the bigger culture in the gym where all the attention is attracted to because of the heavy weight they are doing and the heavy breathing and groans they exert. There are not just ³body builders´ in a gym, but also athletes, parents, grandparents, but most gyms have a college student populated culture. My main focus is going to be the college, middle-aged population that attends the gym. I believe that most college students go to the gym and just start going to the gym at this time of their life because they get bored after classes and do not want to just sit in their dorm rooms while consuming unhealthy food and watching television. The main reason why people go to the gym is to stay in shape, but for others they think they are ³in shape´ because they attend a gym, but do not fully utilize their gym time. People like to call these people that do not utilize their gym time ³posers´ especially when standing around
doing nothing and just socializing. There should be no reason for someone to go to the gym if they are not going to do anything and just stand around wasting perfectly good space. Another main factor that I believe why more people are attending gyms is MTV¶s hit show ³Jersey Shore´. I believe people are going to the gym more often after seeing ³Jersey Shore´ and wanting to look like Ronnie or the Situation, characters in the show that go to the gym every day and are muscular. The show came up with slogans such as GTL, which means gym, tan, laundry, and also the term gorilla juice head which means a strong muscular guy, that people assume use steroids. All these slogans and episodes of this hit television show has brainwashed many of the high-school and college communities, but has had a positive impact because truly I believe more people go to the gym because they want to look like characters on the show.
I am thoroughly excited to study groups of people in this atmosphere. It is going to be very enjoyable to look at this community and actually break down and study what is actually
going on and what people think and do. I believe that I can gain people¶s trust by questioning and interviewing people that attend the gym, but could probably tell if someone is not telling the truth by their body language and appearance. Soon enough my questions will no longer be mysteries. Crimson Colored Community It is a gleaming Tuesday morning around 9:30, as I stroll in to the crimson colored community. As I walk in, I give my connect card to the young aged brown-haired lady at the desk, so she can swipe it to let me use the gym. She seems to look like an upper classmen at Bridgewater State University. The shelves to put your belongings in are not being used besides ten, which makes me assume the gym is not that crowded. I take a seat and unzip my backpack to get my extra pair of gym shoes, since there is a two shoe policy because of the weather. I strap them on and I¶m ready to go to work. Gaiting to get near the ledge next to the window and bench presses, I notice that all the crimson and white nautilus machines are all empty. There are two muscular mountain-looking men with complex beards by the wood palate squat racks. They were wearing cut-off t-shirts that were ripped severely. They seem to be taking a break and talking about Monday Night Raw, a wrestling show that is on Monday nights at 9:00 and how a legendary wrestler, The Rock, made his new appearance. There is not a single person on any treadmills and only two girls on elliptical machines. A pack of three men enter and go towards the flat benches and lift up a pair of 50lb dumbbells. I come to realize there are more people by the water fountain doing abdominal exercises, three men and one woman to be exact.
I feel very awkward sitting on the ledge with my notebook as I stare around the area observing and taking notes. The two men at the squat racks take a glance over at me the same time and just look away, almost knowing what I¶m doing, with no curiosity. Everyone near the cardio equipment is too focused on their own workouts to notice me, but the three guys wearing jeans and polo shirts on the flat benches are talking softly to each other. One casually strolled over to me while I was writing in my notebook and asked what I was doing. I simply told him I was doing a research project on the community at the gym for English class. He walked back to the flat benches and told his peers what I was doing with a notebook sitting on the ledge looking like an oddball. Seeing that there is not much going on I decide to leave and come back later in the day. It¶s the same procedure, but now there is a younger looking girl with blonde hair and blue eyes at the desk to swipe my membership, possibly a freshman. Yet again, I change my shoes and fill my water bottle up at the fountain. The cardio machines are packed tight, I do not even think there is one machine open. There are also four girls on yoga mats doing abdominal workouts. I head over to the ledge near the bench presses where I sat earlier in the day, but there are people using the two benches in the middle that symmetrically divides the gym in to two. I sit about ten feet away from my original spot where the third bench press stands. As I observe I see a bulky muscular guy, with orange short long hair, drinking what looks to be some sort of fruit punch pre or intra-workout drink. Even though I know the purpose of these drinks, I head over to the man and asked him what he was drinking out of curiosity. He explained to me that it was Gaspari Nutrition¶s product, ³Size On´, which is an intra-workout drink. An intra-workout drink helps increase muscle, cell mass, and muscle recovery while training. I asked him if he took anything else such as a pre-workout or a post-workout. He
informed me that before he takes size on he drinks a pre-workout, ³Jack3d´. Most pre-workouts such as jack3d are meant to get someone pumped up before a workout and contain nitric oxide which is meant to get the person training more focused and tense for lifting weights. Lastly, he elaborates that he also takes a post-workout drink which is Gaspari Nutrition¶s, ³Myofusion´. I am very familiar with myofusion because I also take this. Myofusion is a three blend postworkout which means it contains three blends of protein that are: Whey Protein Concentrate & Isolate, Egg Albumen, and Milk Protein Isolate. The only better type of protein is a four blend that includes soy as the fourth ingredient. There are many different types of pre, intra, and postworkouts made by different competitive companies, but all serve the same purpose of focusing, increasing cell mass, increasing muscle growth, and giving a better recovery to not feel sore. These products can be found at a nutrition store such as GNC and they are not steroids.
While I had him talking I figured I¶d throw some questions at him and get his opinion on some subjects. I simply asked why does he go to the gym, does he like going, what he does the most, and does he feel forced in going to the gym. He looked up in a daze of thought, then proclaimed, ³I love going to the gym and do not feel forced at all. I think most men do not feel forced unless they feel insecure about themselves, but I typically feel like that is more likely to happen with women. He ended by stating that he works on every muscle because he wants to
become stronger for football, and look good for beach season.´ I got a lot of helpful information out of him that gave me some ideas of the populations reasoning of attending a gym. I decided to explore the gym a little bit more and see if there was anything I never payed attention to the many times I¶ve been there before. I checked out the small snack bar that has two opening windows; one on the side where you walk in to the Tinsley Center near a lounge with a flat screen television and another near the water fountain in the gym. The menu includes such things such as: protein bars, protein shakes, Gatorade, popcorn, and candy. I assume all the unhealthy foods are for sporting events like basketball games and the protein bars, shakes, and Gatorade is for people in the gym. Continuing my journey around the gym, I find myself near the cardio equipment. I¶ve never really been down this part of the gym and it is a near view that I am not familiar with. As I look and see all the bikes and treadmills something strikes my attention. Right next to three bikes that are excluded from the others there is a scale up against a side of a brick cube that serves the purpose of a pole. This is something new that I have discovered. I have never seen anyone actually check their weight on the scale before, but I do know that these people are in the gym for a purpose. There purpose could be to gain muscle, or good weight, or try to lose weight and get in to better shape. Even though I have never seen the scale or seen anyone use the scale, I do know that it is crucial to this atmosphere. As I return to my original spot on the ledge there are two football-looking linemen with gray and black Bridgewater football shirts bench pressing. I¶d say they weigh at least two-hundred and fifty pounds and they were benching the
bar and two forty pound weights on each side, equaling two-hundred and twenty five pounds. One guy was behind the bench spotting the other, making sure the weight did not fall on his friend. The other laying down on his back was bringing the bar down to his chest and exerting it straight up. They switched after each of them did it ten times. After both of them did twohundred and twenty five they added another forty-five plate to each side, the weight now equaling three-hundred and fifteen pounds. They both seemed to be doing the previous weight pretty well without any shown struggle, but I was not too positive they would get three-hundred plus pounds up. The short plump with short brown hair began to lie down on the bench and told his buddy that he might need help. As he pushed up to get the bar off the stand the weight went straight to his chest with no resistance. The taller more fit looking man that was standing behind him gradually helped him pick the bar off the chest of his friend and placed it back on the stand and told his teammate he would show him how it is done. The short stocky player got behind the rack just in case the other could not handle it. He lifted the bar up brought it down and with full force and resistance got the bar back up and placed the bar on the rack. The player that lifted the three-hundred and fifteen bar smiled at his friend and told him to add ten pound plates to each side, now making it threehundred thirty-five pounds. He asked his friend to give him a lift off, which is when you help the person lift the bar off the rack so they do not exert all their energy on doing so. Once he gave him a lift off he brought the bar down and struggled to get it up. Huffing and puffing the bigger of the two that was lifting was motivating himself by groaning and talking to himself. The one behind the rack puts his hands underneath the bar without touching it just in case and yells at his teammate to push and that he can do it. With his slowly moving arms shaking, he finally barely, successfully gets the weight back on the rack.
I have come to notice that most people do not go to the gym alone. I assume they want someone there to help them like spotting and also for some motivation purposes. A perfect example is the two football players previously talked about. I believe that you need someone else to lift with to motivate and push you to get better and better yourself. As I observe I do not see anyone lifting by themselves, but see many groups in pairs of two and a good amount in three. My eyes rolling over to the cardio section realize that it is more common to be by yourself and listen to music while exercising by walking, running, or cycling. Finishing up my day I grab my notebook and casually go to the shelves to change back in to my original pair of shoes. I see other people wrapping up their day at the gym by wiping off equipment with the pink liquid that lays in the spray bottles, that are found on shelves within the gym, and drying it off with a hand towel that are located next to the spray bottles. Stretching my back as I get up from the sitting bench many people pass me, to make the cluttered gym even worse. After one day I have gotten so much information, but not as much as I can get. I¶ll be back with questions waiting to be answered.
The Gym is What Willis Was Talking About
As I open the door to my room and head down the stairs from the third floor I can see that it is a sunny late March morning as I pass the security officers¶ desk. The air is breathing heavily as I walk down to the Tinsley Center which is about a quarter of a mile away. Unlike Gold¶s
Gym, the highest branch of fitness centers that has over 600 locations in 30 countries, the Tinsley Center is the one and only gym of Bridgewater State University that is small and compact (Lee). With the shoe policy still in effect, I sit down on the ledge near the shelves where the desk counter sits and I change my shoes. Before getting down to business and getting answers to unanswered questions, I decide to do my work-out. About an hour later there are more people at the gym and I start interrogating people. I notice a fellow peer, Daniel Kimwell curling some 50 pound dumbbells, I strolled on over to ask him some questions. He stated that, ³I am very conscious about his physique and also that the feeling after lifting is very enjoyable and I know it is going to pay off´, and that is why he goes to the gym. His favorite piece of equipment at the facility is the bench press because he loves working on his chest and pushing up a lot of weight, but he believes that we as students should not be required to buy a membership to the gym because we already pay for the school, but as far as gym memberships go the price if extremely reasonable. As I finished up the interview with the young vascular Daniel Kimball, I overheard the mountain beard man talking about the famous franchise of Gold¶s Gym. He was talking to his lifting partner that looked like a replica of Brock Lesnar, who is a professional UFC fighter that is built like a rhino, but the replica obviously was not as muscular and jacked as the real Brock. The mountain bearded man continued on how he goes home on the weekends and goes to Gold¶s Gym. He was explaining that the Thornburg Gym in the Tinsley Center is nothing compared to the Gold¶s Gym located in Stoughton. He informed his friend that Gold¶s Gym is three times bigger than the Thornburg Gym and the equipment is more efficient and nicer. The mountain bearded man finally exclaimed that Gold¶s is adding a swimming pool, bowing ring, and a basketball court to the facility as well. Being curious I walked over to the man and asked how
much he pays for a yearly membership at the Gold¶s Gym in Stoughton that he goes to, which he estimated to be around 25 dollars a month that averages to be 300 dollars a year. The second lucky victim that I spoke with was the blonde girl at the desk that is right near the entrance of the gym, her name was Amanda D. I asked her if she could help me out with some information I was curious about such as: can other people from the town of Bridgewater come here, do prices vary, what she thinks about the price, the two shoe policy, and her requirements for the occupation of working there. She explained that she thinks it is ridiculous that students have to pay a fee to use their gym, but considering most gym memberships it is a good price. She also reported that she cleans the machines with pledge cleaner, puts towels on the racks, and checks people in and swipes their card for entry. The two shoe policy is required in case the weather is bad, so no one tracks in rain or dirt into the gym. She also left the interview by saying that not the town of Bridgewater can attend this gym, but alumni, faculty, and vendors can participate and the prices do vary and more information can be acquired at the Tinsley Center/Thornburg Gym website online. The website read: Memberships are available to currently enrolled BSU students, faculty, staff, alumni, and contract vendors. Alumni must be degree-holding, have up-to-date contact information on file with the Davis Alumni Center, and have an active BSU Connect Card. Contract vendors must obtain a verification letter from the business office and have a BSU Connect Card. All memberships are nontransferable and application for a refund must be submitted 30 days in advance. Guest passes can be purchased at $5.00 per person per visit. Please refer to the Guest policies and procedures for additional information (BSU).
Also there was a very informative chart with the membership fees and semester, annual, and summer prices. The last interesting thing that I found out that I never knew before was that there are lockers that you can rent out, but they have a limit on the number of lockers and the price is ten dollars per semester or twenty dollars a year.
Fitness Center Membership Fees
Semester Students Faculty/Staff Alumni BSC Vendor $60.00 $100.00 $125.00 $150.00 Annual $100.00 $200.00 $275.00 $315.00 Full Summer $25.00 $50.00 $100.00 $120.00 Summer Sessions $12.50 per session $25.00 per session $50.00 per session $60.00 per session
To get a girl¶s perspective on the gym I asked her if she goes to the gym, why she does, and if there is a difference between gyms. Amanda replied that, ³Yes, I do exercise here, but this is the first time I have attended a gym so I do not really know the differences between a gym. I always hear my guy friends talking about different gyms in their hometowns and how they miss that certain gym because it is either bigger or better. I can see why a gym can be different to a guy because of all the different weight equipment, but I believe it is a little different for ladies because we usually only use cardio machines to try to lose weight.´ She also said that she was involved in a dance class called zumba, before college started. Catherine Beecher specifically devised fitness programs to meet the needs of women. Among her many different programs was a system of calisthenics performed to music. Though not formally recognized in name, Beecher's programs of the mid-nineteenth century bear remarkable similarities to modern-day aerobics or the newly organized exercise known as zumba (Mechikoff 197). Another interesting development from history is the concept of exercise for the body and music for the soul. Present day fitness programs have evolved this concept
harmoniously, with music being a distinctive component to the exercise experience, like previously mentioned, zumba, which is known for women constantly dancing to music and harmonious beats. I loved that she gave me such a detailed response and gave me a different perspective, but I still was not satisfied. To prove or disprove the bearded man¶s theory of women being more self-conscious, I asked her if she felt forced in going to the gym. Finishing up the interview she answered quickly, ³At first I did feel forced. I mean it is hard to catch someone¶s attention with so many girls here also. I want to look good and all my friends went to the gym also, so I started going with them. But now I end up going more than my friends and feel good about myself, but I still come to stay in shape and keep active.´ What surprised me is that many people go to the gym based on others thoughts. As if someone thinks something differently of someone which makes it a major influence for someone to go to the gym because they feel insecure. What intrigued me is that a lot of people do very different things in exercises. Yes man do heavy lifting and women running, but I have seen things performed by men that I have never seen or ever thought of doing and same with women. Things that disturbed me is the lack of people going to the gym as a whole. There is no reason to not attend a healthy environment and better oneself in health, strength, and fitness. It is going to help you in the long run and also keep you busy. As an immense college campus the attendance at the Thornburg Gym is shocking and disturbing. As John Cena once said, ³there is no excuse for you to not work out. Most people are like I cannot make two hours in a day. Guys I can¶t make 40 minutes in a day, but I get it done.´
= POLE UNLABELED = MACHINES = WEIGHTS
Bench Presses FLAT
N A U C A R D I O T I L I S Shelves Front Desk S H E L E Q U I P CARDIO EQUIPMENT Water Fountain SCALE V E BIKES S Door
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