January 7, 1998

Va Talks Life, Gym Problems

By Robin Davidson
and Vanessa Nygaard

I first noticed Vanessa Nygaard my sophomore year. She was the most animated basketball player I had ever seen, and when I covered women's basketball last season I discovered she had the off-court personality to match.

Through a collaboration of the minds we decided that The Daily needed Vanessa's perspective. I convinced my editors to give us a column where we discuss the relevant (or not so relevant) issues in the world of athletics.

Va (as she is called) has the insider's view and adds a completely new dimension to sportswriting. This week's topic: those people who infest gyms and only work out because they think they look good doing it.

Anyone who's ever been to Arrillaga knows exactly who we're talking about. You try to avoid these people, but they're always on the machine you want to use. And no matter what time you visit the gym, they're ALWAYS there.

They're the people who try so hard to look the part, but somehow you can never get past their Flashdance headband or the shorts that are just a little too short for the weight room.

Robin: Vanessa, you work out a lot so you must encounter these irritating gym-people more than most. In your expert opinion, what brings them to the gym?

Va: Since I don't play volleyball, I don't own any spandex, and I threw my Flashdance headband away in the third grade. I think these people suffer from an undermining need to express their athleticism to others. They cannot just be; they must be seen. Of course, I really don't know anything about it.

Robin: Well you're in a position to be bothered by these people quite frequently. What do you think is the most bothersome thing about trying to work out in the middle of these people?

Va: To be honest, most people bother me. But you're right, these people really stick out. I think the thing that bothers me the most is their complete lack of a sense of reality. I wonder: Do they own any mirrors in their houses other than fun-house mirrors? I'm glad people work out and are concerned about their health. I wish more people did. But don't ruin other people's experience by your overzealousness for your own experience. What's with the American flag bandanna on your head? Or wearing an Izod button-up to work out? I try to make the world a more beautiful place, and I just wish more people would.

Robin: Let's be a little more specific for the readers. I'm sure you've had many encounters with this sort of thing. Give us some specifics from one of your most recent experiences.

Va: Well, I was recently home for Christmas break. And of course, being the diligent, dedicated athlete that I am, I went to work out at my local gym. I needed to use the step-mill machine. There was only one in the place, and there was this woman on it. Let's just call her Roxanne. You'd think an hour would be an adequate amount of time for anyone to work out on a machine if you're working hard. So I waited, I did a few curls. Got a drink - water of course. Returned to find Roxanne still on the step-mill. But she wasn't just using the machine in its conventional sense; she was adding her own Olivia Newton-John-esque movements choreographed to the blaring Abba tunes coming from her walkman as she slowly walked up the stairs. Now I like Abba as much as the next person. But you've got to draw the line somewhere. I needed the machine and this butt-floss-clad woman wasn't going to give me a break. She knew I was waiting; that's the kind of thing I hate.

Robin: Well, what do you think the nonviolent, politically correct Stanford student should do when he or she encounters this situation at the gym?

Va: That's a good question. My first suggestion would be to pretend the person was from Cal, therefore eliminating the need to respect them. But as I learned in my second year of CIV, you should take the high road. Go on with your workout; get bigger, faster and stronger. And let others continue their rueful existence.

Robin: But don't you find it's difficult. I know personally my friends and I are often so bothered by these people we make fun of them for hours after our workout. Do you find this is true for you as well?

Va: Well sadly, it's true for me also. But I think that's their goal. So we as responsible members of society need to say, "Hey, the buck stops here, Buddy." I refuse to talk one more time about the guy who shaves his whole body, even his eyebrows. Enough is enough. As the song says "We're not going to take it. Oh, no, we're not going to take it. We're not going to take it anymore."

Robin: Well that's all for this week. If anything we've said reminds you of yourself, remember the millennium approaches!

Vanessa would like to inform readers that Walt Disney's body is cryogenically frozen and kept at an undisclosed location.