Story by Gaby Strnad
Photo by Abby Smith
Devan Robertson and Chris Zermeno sit comfortably behind the reception desk at Chapman’s Julianne Argyros Fitness center. In between swiping student IDs and wishing gym-goers a great workout, the two work on homework and share laughs about something on the computer screen.
Robertson, a junior at Chapman University, began working at the gym nearly a year ago. Zermeno, a sophomore, started the job three weeks into his freshman year.
Robertson and Zermeno work four three-hour shifts a week. Working has undoubtedly versed them in the culture of the gym lifestyle.
“I commend the people who workout consistently at the fitness center. When I occasionally open at 4:45 am, I see people waiting outside the door. They are very dedicated,” said Robertson.
Zermeno and Robertson have nothing but the highest praise for Chapman’s fitness center. They believe it is a place where people go to “better themselves and [seek] a healthier lifestyle.”
However, it seems that the workers’ favorable attitudes towards Chapman’s gym environment are somewhat in paradox with the views of actual gym-goers.
Jordan Taffet, a junior nutrition major, seeks the gym primarily because it helps her reduce stress.
“I could have a million things to do that day, but I still go to the gym. It’s therapeutic. I have so much energy pent up inside me, I need to exercise to get it out,” she said.
Taffet enjoys the effects of a good workout, but she attests that attending the Chapman gym can often be intimidating. Renovation efforts to make the gym more user-friendly have been implemented, but not enough to remove the discomfort stemming from an “air of judgment” that some gym-goers feel.
“The gym is so poorly laid out. I think if people actually had more space to focus on their own workout, there would be less of a competitive culture,” she said.
“At the gym, I think there’s kind of a ‘script’ for what you can and can’t do, which is severely limiting to any growth. Women go on the cardio machines. Men are stuck in the weight room. If there is any discrepancy in these roles, it isn’t accepted. I really dislike that,” said Katie Ashby, a junior at Chapman and former women’s volleyball player.
Workers agree that more space could be beneficial to workouts.
“During busy hours it is hard to get a productive workout in because all the equipment is being used.To maximize our amazing facilities I would say to avoid the rush hours,” said Reyn Yoshiura, a senior employee of the gym.
However, most fitness center employees see the gym less as a competition arena and more as a harmonious place of personal advancement.
“People who come to the gym are dedicated to maintaining their health. They are people who have a positive outlook on life,” said Zermeno.
Taffet believes that current and prospective gym-goes could benefit from adopting attitudes of the students who work there. She believes that by doing so, it could help create a more welcoming environment for people of all fitness levels.
“Regardless of the current culture at the gym, I think it’s important to focus on your personal reasons for being there. Don’t judge the person next to you for their experience, and they won’t judge you for yours. Ultimately everyone here is working towards the same thing,” said Taffet.