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Get Rec’t: Miami’s gym culture is pushing our facilities to the limit

Bulking, gym rat influencers have taken over Miami’s Rec Center.
Bulking, gym rat influencers have taken over Miami’s Rec Center.

Last week, my family friend from Nashville, Tennessee, texted me: 

“Have you seen Sam Sulek on campus at all?”

If you don’t know who Sam Sulek is, he’s one of the biggest gym influencers on social media right now, and he may have had a class with you here at Miami University. 

That text I received got me thinking: why are there so many gym influencers at Miami? Is Miami transforming into a school for gym rats?

“So many people are creating gym content,” sophomore and gym influencer Rohan Rangaraju said. “Seriously, it’s a lot. Its presence at [Miami] specifically is the reason we have so many [influencers].” 

Evidently, Miami has become the place to be for gym content creation, but this new media trend also poses some problems for on-campus facilities. Aspiring influencers have begun to film their workouts to follow the trend. 

With the abundance of tripods and recording devices, one can only imagine how much more congested and awkward the gym has become. Filming can be intimidating for other gym goers, encroach on their right to exercise privately and result in people using machines longer than usual. 

After experiencing the new status quo for gym culture at the Recreation Center, I got a subscription to Planet Fitness and now drive 20 minutes to Hamilton every day. It’s better than waiting for machines to open at the Rec or accidentally finding myself in the frame of a tripod setup.

However, not all students have the option of traveling to an off-campus gym, forcing them to endure the crowded Rec. Most students, specifically first and second-year students, don’t have cars and have to rely on other transportation for an alternative exercise space. 

So exercise options at Miami pose some significant challenges: lack of transportation, crowded gym spaces, intimidating influencers and more.

Unfortunately, Miami can’t cater to the school’s rising gym culture influencers and non-influencers with their current gym arrangements. 

To encourage exercise, fulfill the needs of regular gym-goers and influencers alike and attract prospective students, Miami needs to consider the addition of a new recreation center — or at least some major changes to the current one — on campus. 

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A second Rec would help disperse students across two fully furnished on-campus gyms, decreasing crowds and promoting an open, less intimidating environment for beginners. But, at the rate we’ve seen construction projects on this campus be completed, it’s unlikely that current Miami students will see a new gym space during their college careers. 

So how can we mitigate the issues surrounding gym exercise at Miami today?

As for the overcrowding of the Rec and lack of transportation to other gym facilities, there are few solutions to these problems, as they may be out of the control of students. However, going to the gym during less busy hours or considering other options for exercise a couple of times a week might help decongest the Rec at times when it's most popular. 

Additionally, some responsibility falls on the aspiring influencers. If you’re going to film in the Rec, be conscious of those around you. Don’t spend an inordinate amount of time on one machine, and don’t include students’ faces in your videos without their permission. Practicing respectful gym etiquette will create a welcoming environment for all gym-goers. 

Eliana Riley is a sophomore majoring in integrated language arts education. She has been writing columns for The Student since her first year at Miami and self-publishes in her spare time.