Very few people love to work out, yet the Bear is bustling with Grinnellians everyday of the week. If going to the Bear is an activity that you need to pump yourself up for, why not take a few purposeful steps to improve the quality of this sometimes-dreaded task?
The first question you have to ask yourself is when in your busy schedule you want to pencil in a trip to the north end of campus. Just like the Dining Hall, the Bear has rush hours where the facility is overrun with students. The main rush hour is right after classes at around 4:15 all the way until 5:00, when all the treadmills are guaranteed to be taken. If you are looking to start going to the gym, or already go during this busy time but often wait for a machine or are overwhelmed by the hectic atmosphere, I encourage you to reexamine your schedule.
Ask yourself if you have any time in the morning, such as an hour or two break between classes. The Bear is practically empty at this time. The contrast of morning sunshine trickling in through the windows, a serene silence, and all of the machines just waiting for you versus the chaotic din of top forties music, chatter, and myriad feet pounding the treadmills you will find during the rush hour is convincing enough to make even a morning skeptic consider scheduling their workout in the a.m.
Yet for those like myself who cannot function let alone workout until noon, do not despair. The gym is still calm and quiet into the afternoon. One benefit of breaking up your daily routine, such as going to the Bear right before lunch, is that you will come back to the rest of your homework and classes feeling invigorated and accomplished. Two-hour seminar after lunch? No problem! While everyone else will be nodding off in class, you will be ready to take on the world, or at least Sartre’s views on existentialism.
If you cannot hit up the gym during the day, why not try going at night? This option may at first seem unappealing, as many of us having meetings, homework, or socializing that occupies our evenings. Yet if you are someone that has time at night, the gym is pretty empty at this time as well. Another benefit of a night owl gym visit is that you can head right back to your dorm, take a nice warm shower and then fall asleep. Dozing off under these circumstances proves much easier than if your last activity before bed was hunching over a bright computer screen.
If you run on the treadmill, how do you make the choice of whether you run on one that faces the lower workout area, or one that faces the windows? For a long time I approached this decision mindlessly, simply hopping on any machine that was available without consideration. Recently, I have realized there is a clear distinction in your workout experience depending on which direction you face. If you are someone who enjoys lots of distractions while on the treadmill, then opt for the treadmills facing the lower gym and televisions. If people bustling down below and images flashing detract from your workout experience, and you would rather get lost in your own thoughts and life goals, opt for a treadmill that faces the windows. Like most things in life, it is the combination of all these little choices that add up to vastly impact and even define an overall gym experience.
No amount of switching up the time you workout or which machine you use will completely remedy the fact that running on treadmills can get a bit dull. This is because time at the gym is unlike pretty much every task we complete at Grinnell in that it is your body and not your mind that is being challenged. Well, guess what? You can use this lack of direct stimulation for your cerebrum to your advantage. Instead of thinking about how bored you are, and constantly checking the time, try thinking. No, not thinking about applying a feminist lens to Jane Eyre, or game theory. Try to reflect on your day, and your current state. Being in college, and especially at Grinnell, we constantly have many interpersonal, academic, extracurricular related and long-term goals to reflect on and sort through. Yet so much of our day is rushing from one activity to the next, we end up with very little time to truly reflect.
Similar to your plate of pasta at the Dining Hall, at first it may seem you only have one option of what is right in front of you when hitting up the gym. But, in reality, there are many savory toppings that can be added to your gym experience to make it, if not spectacular, at least more Bearable ;).
-Linnea Hurst ’15