One of my sorority sisters had recently gotten into running and invited me to come along with her. I’m a person who works out
pretty regularly when I realize that I need to get in shape for something, so I jumped at the opportunity to publicly wear norts for an activity other than class. Oh my good Lord, those six miles were torture. My fantasy of looking slow-motion sexy while jogging around campus was quickly shattered and I ended my run from hell on the ground.
Engaging in actual exercise reminded me of an age-old truth: sorority women love the elliptical. You will enter the gym, wait for 30 minutes (because they’re always all filled up), and then use one for 30 minutes, totaling a one-hour workout. You could just bypass the line and go for the treadmill, because cardio is pretty much all you do, but generally, it’s elliptical or bust, for a number of reasons.
You never approach the weights. Why would you? It’s nothing short of humiliating. It’s crowded by guys who are easily benching your body weight and you can only lift five pounds. Plus, not lifting is actually a form of training. Every time you don’t lift weights and boys do, you’re practicing your ability to get them to lift things for you. They are practicing their ability to be chivalrous. If for some reason you still feel inclined to do weight training, perhaps you are confident in your boyfriend’s ability to carry a heavy object for you, a serious problem remains. You don’t even know how to use half of those weights. Some of those machines are confusing, and I don’t know about you, but I go to the gym to read magazines, not to look stupid.
This brings me to my next point. Treadmills suck and should be avoided at all costs. On the elliptical, you can relax, watch TV on your iPad, answer a call to let your friends know that you work out, and pretend to be in decent shape. The treadmill destroys all that, which ruins your whole gym experience. Running actually takes some effort, which limits you in terms of multi-tasking and you’re a busy woman.
Mostly, the elliptical is great because the gym, realistically, serves as a kind of beauty pageant. You parade around in spandex to say “I’m really fucking hot,” have a straightened ponytail bobbing perfectly to add “and I’m not even trying that hard,” and top it off with a sorority t-shirt to let everyone know where this absolute vision came from (because your sorority is so sporty cute). We pretend to work hard but our main goal is to look as fabulous as possible while burning off the calories we will consume later that evening. A red face, sweaty body, and frazzled hair ruin that for you, but the elliptical allows you to get what you really want out of your workout.
It may seem like we are just wasting space while the men work hard, but don’t be fooled. The gym-going charade is not limited to women. Around 90% of the guys at the gym are just there for the show. If you watch them closely, when they’re not busy staring at the row of ellipticals, you’ll see most guys meandering around, only pretending to work out. They’ll lift weights a few times, then stop to check themselves out in the mirror and talk to friends. When they see you walking by, they will immediately resume their reps, but only temporarily. After pretending to lift, they will get up and spend, like, five minutes getting water, before starting the whole process over again. If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the bodies of so many college men, your answer is clear: being at the gym is a joke for almost the entire student body, but at least we look good doing it.