Why I lose all social finesse trying to work out at the ARC

Analyzing how we can make the ARC less of a social calamity

When it comes to the ARC, we have to fake it until we make it.

It seems as if every time I walk into the ARC to work out, I’m either a witness to or participant in a cringe-worthy social moment. After three years of this madness, I can’t tell if I’m the problem or if the ARC is cursed.

I’m aware that, frequently, the discomfort I experience at the gym is all in my head. There are simply too many variables to consider—what to wear, what floor to work out on, how long to stay, and how many minutes it’s acceptable to sit on your phone for.

I remember my first ARC disaster in first year. I saw a fourth-year guy wearing a “MAINE” t-shirt, so I tapped his shoulder and asked if he grew up there. He pulled one headphone out, took one glance at my pink sneakers and “ARTSCI 2023” t-shirt, shook his head, and promptly walked away.

Having never met another Queen’s student from Maine, I made an irredeemable misjudgment and assumed it was acceptable to approach a friendly-looking peer and ask.

After that excruciating moment, I understood the gravity of the ARC’s unwritten social boundaries. For one, it’s not a safe space to initiate platonic conversations between strangers.

There also seems to be a delicate balance between completely ignoring the people working out beside you while simultaneously competing with them.

There was a recent moment I think epitomizes the ARC’s debilitating effect on my social performance.

Picture this: you walk to a zone to stretch a little, do some sit-ups, maybe even some burpees if you’re feeling extra jazzed, only to look over and see an old flame working out in the zone next to you. Instead of smiling at them and going on with your cute little workout, you start deep lunging with 30-pound dumbbells in each hand like it’s no big deal.

I can attest to the fact that spontaneously lunging 60 pounds without any training or stretching is indeed a big deal because I couldn’t walk properly for the following four days.

Through an intense process of trial and error, I’ve adopted a few techniques that make my ARC endeavors less cringe-inducing.

The ARC recently loosened its safety measures and allows students to take their masks off while actively working out. The facility also omitted their zone-restriction and appointment booking requirements.

While they still encourage visitors to stay within their zones, this makes going to the gym with a buddy much easier, as you can find an empty area and work out together.

I also find having a set plan for my workout makes me feel less awkward—get in, get your sweat on, and make a beeline for the door.

It’s also helpful for me to realize that, like me, most people feel slightly uncomfortable squatting in a room full of strangers who are also squatting.

When it comes to the ARC, I think the only option we have is to fake it until we make it.

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