For the past few weeks, students visiting the Bears Lair fitness center have been privy to what can only be described as a gender revolution. Aaron Simon '13, a confirmed member of the male sex, has repeatedly been using the elliptical exercise machine - a device traditionally reserved for anorexic girls and people who want to exercise without working hard while watching "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" on E!.
When questioned about his unconventional choice of equipment, Simon proudly took ownership of his decision, claiming that he was "breaking down centuries-old gender binaries," ones which had previously marginalized him to the use of free weights and the pull-up bar. "Do you know what it's like to actually have to exert effort to exercise, to lift objects repeatedly?!" Simon wailed. "To have to come in here once a week and pretend like you're something you're not? Like you want to build muscle instead of just tone and burn calories?"
Simon's brave actions have made waves throughout the fitness community, and he hopes they will act as a catalyst that will start campus wide dialogue about the oppressive nature of gender heterodoxy. Blair Evans '14, an economics concentrator, says that he sees Simon as an inspiration: "It's just so nice to see someone actually getting out there and doing something, rather than just talking." Evans went on to explain that because of Simon's actions he no longer feels uncomfortable about ordering a Caramel Frappucino at Starbucks, despite the mocking snickers of the cute female barista. "Let her laugh, I know who I am," said Evans. "A heterosexual male who enjoys a swirl of golden caramel on top of his chilled coffee beverage."
For the moment, it seems that the majority of students are still uncertain about Simon's actions, but there is evidence that the tide may be turning. Luker Merger, a distance runner, is among the growing group of converts. For Merger, however, it wasn't the high rate of calories burned, nor the general lack of exertion required nor even the phallic shape of the grip poles that won him over. Rather, it was the machine's failure to engage any part of the body except the legs in strenuous motion. "I could never read OK Magazine and text when I used the treadmill," Merger said, as he pumped away manically at the machine, "but now look at me! I'm totally multitasking!"
While some support Simon's bold public displays, not all are so welcoming. Stephen Erikson '11, an intramural soccer player from Indiana, feels discomforted by Simon's antics. "It's just unnatural," Erikson declared. "There are plenty of good machines and bench presses here, why would he want to go and flail around like that? Honestly, I think it's just a cry for attention."
Simon is no stranger to accusations such as Erikson's, but he claims to be unfazed by them, saying, "I actually think it's funny, these bigots act all big and tough now, but we'll see who's laughing come swimsuit season." Simon's elliptical usage, however, is actually just a small part of a broader New Year's resolution to, as Simon puts it, "get in shape and start loving myself." In addition to his weekly workouts, Simon has made efforts to start eating better. Over lunch, he told the Noser that "It's really just a matter of self-discipline" as he paused to gently dab the oil from his pizza. "Little changes can go a long way."
Simon has indicated that he has no intention of switching back to more conventionally masculine equipment. "We've come this far; there is no turning back now," Simon said as he gracefully changed into his exercise leotard. "Trust me, this is only the beginning." When asked to elaborate on his plans for the future, Simon refused to go into too much detail, but he did hint that he's had his eye on those big, inflatable exercise balls for a few weeks now.