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The Daily Tar Heel

No Need for The SRC; Life Offers Exercise

Growing up, I was always the kid who hid under the bleachers with a book in gym class. I would cry on volleyball days.

I am not ashamed; I've come a long way since then. Gone are the days of living in fear of physical activity or anything sports-related. These days I can drop ACC statistics, I play on a club team, I understand the tennis scoring system. I am a sports page-reading machine. I love running and pick-up games of all kinds. Hell, I am a sports bra's biggest fan!

But I hate the Student Recreation Center.

And it's not because of my history as a nonathlete or that I don't feel that exercise is important.

It's incredible that we live in a society where we have to travel to a special building just to make ourselves tired. Just think what could be done if we applied all that energy to something productive -- how many gardens planted, connections made, hours volunteered.

Now physical activity is fantastic, that is apparent. How many times have I heard one student remark to another, "Physical activity may provide the shortcut which we ... have been seeking for the control of chronic diseases, much like immunization has facilitated the progress against infectious diseases" (actually that was the U.S. Center for Disease Control, McGinnis, 1992.)

Right, sure. Like any student would say that, but you know what I mean.

Exercise is good for us, and I understand I could definitely use more myself.

But even so, I gave up the SRC.

I know what you're thinking, readers. "Sounds like somebody is itchin' for some osteoporosis! Looks like this girl wants a slice of heart disease pie!" Hey, I'm certainly not down with life-threatening illness, but if the SRC is the only thing that stands between me and an early demise, then I reckon it's time to write up a last will and testament.

I have some friends (they shall remain nameless, though one shall be referred to by the code word of "roommate") who have been known to take the elevator in the dorm and the bus to the SRC only to use the Stairmaster and the treadmill.

And therein lies the flaw of the whole thing.

The whole idea of a building full of nothing but stationary fitness apparatus smacks of wasted energy. So you've burned 500 calories, but you are still in the same exact place where you started.

Coming out of the SRC after circuit-training with the Cybex machines you can't help but wonder what has really been accomplished.

Sure, muscles are fatigued, but honestly, was it good for the soul or the world at large? Is there ever a genuine sense of satisfaction from picking up and setting down a random, useless piece of metal 50 times?

Doesn't it just seem a bit ... absurd?

I can't understand the willingness to uselessly exert energy solely in pursuit of toned pectorals, triceps, quads. Are we measuring worth by our squat max, our best bench press? We live on a beautiful campus chock full of jogging trails, and to pass up a gorgeous day to run inside a windowless room on a treadmill is a tad criminal. As it is, we spend enough time inside classrooms.

But it's not as though the sidewalks are empty. If this school has anything, it's certainly not a shortage of joggers.

I don't want to get self-righteous. This whole argument might just be a convenient excuse for my lack of motivation. Or maybe not. Perhaps this all harks back to my roots as the gym class pariah. Am I bitter? Do gyms in general bring back bad memories of early youth? Did I really change, or am I just fooling myself?

Am I unfairly condemning the innocent SRC, when all it's trying to do is improve the health and decrease the body fat of UNC students, effectively sending them on a path to long life and happiness?

I don't know. Just seems like there is a better way.

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We shouldn't take substitutes for the real workout life has to offer.

At least that's how it looks from under these bleachers.

Erin Fornoff is a sophomore from Asheville. Find her at She doesn't have to tell you where not to look.

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