In anticipation of the January blues I comforted myself with a cloud of resolutions- new projects always get me excited. One of these was to go the gym. I decided to avoid The Edge which (I thought to myself) would have naturally been crawling with other, definitely fitter, students. I opted for The Gym instead, hoping that they put more effort into cleaning the place than they put into choosing its name.
After a hard morning’s work in the library I was looking forward to escaping the campus for a few golden hours. I dusted of the membership which I’d been hoarding redundantly for an entire semester and off I went. However, it seemed upon arrival that I’d stumbled upon an extension of the campus that I hadn’t even known existed. £16 a month, an eight-digit code and I had access to a whole new student realm: the gym. I found myself instantly tugging at my worn out vest top and looking with disdain at my pink trainers. It seemed the whole of Leeds University (and possibly a few Leeds Metters!) had had the same idea as me.
There were the students who looked like they were born for the gym, barely sweating in their lycra as they pounded the treadmill. There were those youths whose alternative music you could hear blaring from the next cross trainer. There were the immaculately turned out girls that looked like they were ready for a night out at Halo rather than an afternoon gym sesh. And then there was me. At first I just looked around overwhelmed by the ‘studentness’ of it all. On a Monday afternoon I had expected the place to be fairly sparse with perhaps a scattering of fitness- fanatic pensioners. But how wrong I was. I timidly sat on the exercise bike pretending I was a pro-pedlar having cunningly set the difficulty level to one. It seems the gym is just another breeding ground for student stereo types.
It’s easy to think that student stereo types simply unravel outside the university- that there’s something about those institutionalised walls which morph us into our orthodox personas: the jock, the rah, the quiet one. Actually it’s to do with us students ourselves. Bung us together and we can’t help revert back to our typical ‘roles’. I suppose you could say that there’s something quite comforting about the familiarity! A few weeks later and I am practically a regular: not quite a treadmill fiend but at least the exercise bike is set to a rather respectable level six. Having got used to the machines, finally remembered my entrance code (who knew it would be so difficult!) and, ultimately, adjusted to exercising in front a mass of my piers I’ve definitely become attuned to student life at the gym. Maybe sometime soon I’ll even brave The Edge!