Our muscular bodies, our selves?

Sweat, grunting, moans, just another day at the Portland State University Stott Center open recreation weight room. Every day men (and women) enter the room to take on the iron and pulleys and racks of self-improvement, fitness and body consciousness. A healthy and positive choice for sure, but amidst the burgeoning bicep and the taxed latisimus dorsi there is something else that lurks. It is the dangers associated with weight lifting, and judging by the performance of so many men on a recent trip to the gym, most are oblivious to it.

The stresses and strains of improper lifting cannot be overemphasized, and within the Stott Center they are not emphasized at all. Of course, those who participate are ultimately responsible for their own well-being and their own bodies, however a place which is designed to serve the student body should be a place to transform student’s lives for the better. It hardly lives up to its responsibility.

There are room attendants who are employed to care for the weight room and ideally to offer advice, adjust machines to more proper settings and generally create a safe and satisfying sanctuary of exercise. But the ideal is just that. Many of the young men would never dream of interrupting another man’s workout to offer advice. This would be a violation of one of the cultural taboos between men: a comment about the body, and to add to that, a critique of the other man ���� hardly the culturally proscribed way to build a traditional male friendship. On the other hand, is it even fair to require unqualified, poorly paid student workers to offer much needed fitness advice? Yet, the information is critically needed, even if it’s just photocopied posters of proper positioning and body alignment. This would, in the very least, save a few shoulders from the torture of repetitive stress injuries, not to mention the legs, back, neck and knees.

Regardless, of who steps in with the much needed intellectual “spot,” I hope that someone does soon before another young man on a masculine odyssey for musculature permanently injures himself. And while I am hoping, here is one for Stott Center and the physical education department: more aggressive presentation of information will most definitely result in a much healthier student body.