Why I hate working out at the Rec

Big Rapids residents Toya Brown (left) and Jasmine Brown (right) circle the track in the Rec Center.
Big Rapids residents Toya Brown (left) and Jasmine Brown (right) circle the track in the Rec Center. Photo by: Marshall Scheldt | Sports Editor

Time to get a run in. I guess I’ll go to the Rec Center and use the track.

I show up to the Rec at 6:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. I walk up the stairs to the track and prepare for the aggravation fest of trying to get a good workout at the Rec.

I sit down on the bench by the track and start pulling off my boots and putting my shoes on. I’m in luck—I’m just in time to hear the three perspiring bros hogging up most of the bench talking loudly about how they nailed their workout and can’t wait to get “drunk AF” later.

I begin my run. It’s Tuesday, so runners are supposed to run clockwise. I’m not half a lap into my run and I’m already dodging people going the wrong way. Not only am I constantly on the lookout for directionally challenged people, but I’m weaving in and out of illiterate people who clearly can’t comprehend the “Runners: Inside two lanes” and “Walkers: Outside two lanes” signs.

As I’m running on the outermost lane to dodge a flock of girls simultaneously selfie-ing and walking, I almost plow over a four-year-old who’s broken away from his townie parent and is now zig-zagging aimlessly about the track.

After coming to a complete stop to avoid unintentionally murdering a child, I start running again. Even through my music, I can hear some very loud breathing behind me. Like, really loud. Is someone having an asthma attack? This person does not sound normal.

After making sure I don’t see anyone walking in the inside lane in front of me, I glance over my shoulder and—holy shit! Is that Darth Vader? What the hell does that guy have on his face? I do a double take at the sweatsuit-clad man with some sort of Bane-like breathing contraption covering his face. He looks terrifying. I stare straight ahead as he passes me as to not draw attention to myself. I laugh as he scares a (different) clique of gossiping, lane-hogging girls.

I’m adequately annoyed with the chaos consuming the track, so I stop running and decide to do some abdominal work. I walk over to the stack of mats, pick one up and—GROSS! I immediately drop the sweaty piece of blue foam that someone clearly didn’t clean after using. I suppress a gag, disinfect my hand and decide I’ll skip abs and lift weights instead.

I’m about to walk over to the free weights, but stop when I notice three jacked bros lifting weights two inches away from the weight rack, blocking the entire thing. I send a menacing stare in their direction and walk towards them, hoping they’ll see me and move. Nope—guess I’ll have to push my way through.

“Excuse me,” I say as I walk up to the weight rack. The bros are in testosterone-induced oblivion and don’t even glance at me. Tired of waiting, I roll my eyes and push my way through their damp limbs to grab some dumbbells.

“Hey, sorry sweetheart,” one of them says while shamelessly giving me a once over.

I pretend I don’t hear him and continue my workout, but it’s difficult to concentrate because the smell of someone’s B.O. is so strong I’m highly considering finding Bane-dude to ask if he’ll lend me his mask so I can block out the smell.

By this point, it’s 7:30 p.m. and half of the Ferris student body is at the Rec. I’m starting to feel like I’m at Shooters on a Saturday night: it’s hot, crowded and smelly and groups of men are eyeing groups of women, half of the people here are texting, talking on the phone or taking selfies and I can’t walk more than four feet without running into someone I know. The longer I’m here, the more over it I get, but I know I’ll be back because there are no other options.

I pack up my stuff and leave the sweaty, hormone-induced socialization fest that is the Rec Center on a weeknight. I decide I’ll try a different time tomorrow.