Pumping (relatively small amounts of) Iron

       When I’m feeling a little too big for my britches, I go to the gym. Of course, that works in two senses. The first doesn’t require explaining here. The second merits a little more attention. At Middlebury, there is no such thing as a “varsity gym” (or its neglected twin, the “plebe gym”). One gym serves everyone, varsity athletes and the not-so varsity alike. This means that if I hit the gym at the right time, I can expect to follow the offensive line on the bench, the basketball team at the pull-up bar, and maybe a cross-country runner on the treadmill.
       At home, I go to a community center gym. I don’t know about anyone else’s community, but judging by the fitness center on most afternoons, mine is not terribly athletic. I follow the retired lawyer with a bad hip on the bench, last year’s softball MVP on the pull up bar, and a variety of power walkers on the treadmill.
       Yet I have found the feeling you get working out in each is strikingly similar. Perhaps that is because Middlebury’s athletic community is so difficult to distinguish from Middlebury at large.  Sure, they have a lot of swag. But aside from the t-shirts and warm ups, they look, act, and think just like anyone else here. So when I head to the gym, I have no reason to expect anything different than when I head to the community center. What’s more, I have no reason to expect anything different than when I head to the library.  Sure, I’m impressed when the line gets done hoisting their own body weight over their heads. But that impression isn’t all that different from the one I get when I see the same student carrying an equally impressive stack of books to his carrel in the library.
       We all work, and work pretty hard, whether at the gym, the library, or wherever else. More importantly, we appreciate all of that work—and my britches are nice and comfy wherever I go.

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