A long time has passed since I first went to a gym. The year was 1990 and the fashion was for gym-goers to wear g-string leotards and fishnet bicycle shorts.*
It would not be an exaggeration to say that I have had a mixture of gym-based experiences.There was the time I forgot that the weights room was lined with mirrors and that the cute boy in the corner could see me “appreciating his form”. In terms of embarrassment, this was exceeded only by the time I fell off the backwards incline bench*** and the occasion I had to get cut out of the rowing machine.****
Despite this periodic public humiliation, I have always enjoyed the gym and since thesis candidates should not live by thesis alone I thought I’d venture back there to scope it out for you. Armed only with my obligatory sweat towel and a giant Panda to spot me on the bench, we tested out the facilities at Unipol.
Denial is strong in this one and convincing Panda B.Ear to leave the comfort of the couch was trickier than you might imagine. His attempt at camouflage was impressive but ultimately futile.
It was a nice walk to Unipol but slower than normal. Panda basked in the attention of some tame professors and I was stopped by Campus Watch inquiring about the strong arm tactics I appeared to be using to get Panda moving. Needs must and all that and I headed off with a slightly weaker grip on the Bear’s throat.
Panda started with a bit of cardio and some off-key singing. One minute in and the sweat and guy-liner was running down his face.
Hmm, my nemesis. Was slightly nervous about this one given my past experience. However, Panda’s bareness meant we escaped without getting caught up.
In the face of ongoing speculation, Panda was determined to show how well balanced he is.
The middle part of the gym excursion was evocative of the middle part of the thesis journey. After the initial enthusiasm for the adventure there was confusion about what any of the equipment was for, bouts of self-pity, and an inability to meet the direct gaze of anyone official.
Like any good trainer, I pushed Panda through the bleak period and he was soon flying high again.
A sweaty bear is a stinky bear and a stinky bear makes an unhappy Claire. Panda was surprised but pleased there were no changing facilities for bears at Unipol. Not to be undone by this odd oversight, I broke into a nearby student flat and drained their hot-water cylinder getting the sweat off Panda’s fur.
Now you know how inclusive and welcoming Unipol is, you have no excuse not take a break from your thesis and get down there.
Getting some exercise will make you feel better, sleep more soundly, and will help you work out the next bit of your experiment or the best way to word that pesky chapter you’re stuck on. Not only that, you might meet a nice Panda there.
*To be fair, it was only one woman who wore this combo, but the memory will be forever etched into my mind’s-eye**
**Which I’d like to poke out
****Really don’t ask
Unipol gets five bamboo sticks out of five.
Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School and Panda B.Ear, Under-Cover Reporter and Raconteur