White Building, for the Win
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Student Life

White Building, for the Win

White Building, for the Win

We all know how different our lifestyles become once May rolls around. We pack up our shoebox rooms, take some gut-wrenching cumulative finals, and shoot to go out one last time after Frat Formal Friday.

You can practically smell the end of the year coming in State College, and once it’s over, you're back home to Mom’s cooking, some sort of internship, and a renewed confidence from the knowledge that there probably aren’t mysterious bugs under your bed. In part, this adjustment includes returning to your old gym at home. 

When I workout at my hometown’s YMCA, I consider having braided hair, matching sneakers, and clean spandex huge accomplishments. I  don’t even mind sending Snapchats while mascara is down my cheeks and I’m drenched in sweat. I care more about my workout than how I look or whom I might see. I wish I could say the same for when I'm exercising at school, but my gym behavior at home is a far cry from how I act at the infamous White Building.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I straighten my hair pre-White Building, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t purposely put on some bronzer before my workout once or twice. I must be far from alone in feeling that the White Building is a very competitive environment, where sorority girls fight to the death for a non-corner treadmill and frat boys camp out in the pit as though their lives depend on it. 

At Penn State, lifting is the biggest competition next to beer pong. We’ve all been there, trying to get some reps done on a machine, while the guy to your left is staring you down mercilessly so you’ll finish faster. (FYI, you totally won that battle by not wiping down the machine after using it). You’ve been on a treadmill next to a cardio-lover, watching her like a hawk, and spiking your incline and speed to be just slightly above hers. For the record, I admire you, Miss I-love-running-at-level-9.0. Being a member of Greek life and a frequenter of the White Building, there are definitely a list of expectations, including:

1) Wear your letters. Not only are you responsible for representing your org, but by wearing your letters, you contribute to the organization of the gym as a whole. Plus, people will start to associate you with your letters, and when someone sees you on College Ave around 3 a.m., they might know what org you're in, even when you're not in your usual letter tank. 

2) Work up a sweat, but not too much. Sweating is good, but walking around campus soaking wet should be reserved for rainy football game days only. Your dreams would die if you ended up on Yik Yak as the person who is over-sweating by the back water fountain.  

3) Travel in packs. If it were 2012, I would say “roll squad deep”, but I’d prefer for people not to hate me. The success of your work out heavily depends on your support group you bring with you. The more guys to spot you or girls to stretch with, the better. 

4) Every man for himself. Just because you know a person in the massive New-Year’s-resolution line outside doesn’t mean you can cut. And those friendly workers you see in there every day? Don’t even try getting in without your PSU ID. It’s not happening, even if you show them a credit card or your personalized bag (heard that from a friend…). 

5) Expect the unexpected. The only thing more unpredictable than weather in State College is the temperature of the White Building. It could be a scorching September day outside, but with one look inside the White Building, you’ll wish you had your snow tubing gear. More likely than not, you will encounter some degree of humidity mixed with regret, so be prepared. 

By the time all the effort has been put in to conform to these White Building credentials, you have your A-game ready to go. Workouts at the White Building involve so much more than sweating off your hangover in half-hearted elliptical stints or killing leg day. All it takes is a single step into this fitness building to know you are not at a typical gym. The White Building, in truth, is little more than an arena of (predominately) Greek guys/girls competing against each other to be the best. However, with all this energy put into abiding by these unwritten rules, are you really getting the best workout that you could? Are you focusing on being healthy, or on winning the White Building’s games?   

After one or two ‘supers’ are prefixed to our class standing, we will eventually have to leave this place that we call home. We will be faced with having to become 12-month gym members, forgoing that sweet 3-month summer deal that some of us have fortunately come across. In the real world, I don’t think that the person next to you will be judging you for the letters you’re wearing. They won’t care if you actually consumed your daily dose of Muscle Milk, or if you are still sweating out last night’s drinks (will the smell of residual Crown Russe ever fade from our memories?). 

I have a feeling that people will not really be judging you at all, but will be more focused on themselves and concerned with the challenges of their own workout. This begs a question: will we, the products of Generation White Building, actually be able to measure up in a normal gym? Science has exactly zero research on this topic, but if I had to put my money on an answer, I would say that it’s going to be quite an adjustment for us White Building groupies once we leave for good. I imagine the transition will be something like Cady (pronounced Katie) Heron going dressed as a zombie bride to Chris Isen’s Halloween party - we’ll wear all the wrong clothes, way too much makeup, and exactly no one will want to squat or sit with us. 

But as most things in life go, I’m sure it will get better in time, and there’s a good chance we will all be excelling at the local Zumba class while simultaneously stalking the newest members of our orgs on social media. In the mean time, treat every day on your favorite machine like it’s your last (RIP StairMasters, circa Fall 2013). Breathe deep in the raging humidity, and enjoy squinting at the subtitles on each TV. Soak up as much of the White Building as you can, counterculture and all. 

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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