from such great heights

Cycling and Rib Vaults

Posted in life by chapwoman on February 1, 2008

I think I’ve finally found a state of nirvana when I exercise. Not the nirvana characterized by Buddhism and nature, but that state of being when you really don’t feel anything. No stress, no worry, no pain.

For me, there’s a strange cycle with exercising. The first few weeks really just suck; you can’t put it any other way, because in the beginning exercise. just. sucks. Your shins fatigue after running for a mere five minutes, your gluts reject the idea of sitting down with ease, and your lungs seem to be too small to take the large breaths you crave during the peak moments of your workout.

But after working through the strained muscles and learning to befriend those post-workout pains, your body responds to exercise more appropriately. It’s no longer a chore, but a necessity. This was the message my body sent me when I came back from Christmas Break because I’d been exercising for a solid month–but what happened the next day? Ahhh yes, I was “black-listed” and anxious at the thought that I couldn’t legally use the school gym. For those who exercise regularly, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Your body goes through withdrawals from not working out & craves any type of aerobics. So of course, I did what I had to do to quell my body’s physical concerns–I went to the gym anyway haha.

So now that it’s the fourth week of winter quarter, my exercise routine has nearly reached its climax–the nirvana stage. Regular exercise used to be a chore, then became a necessity, but now it’s a new kind of leisure. I don’t log onto facebook when I’m bored on Monday afternoons. I don’t play Guitar Hero like my roommate (future posts about that). Instead, I slip on my Nikes and go to the gym. I would be lying if I said my hamstrings have stopped aching after strength-training, or that my calves never pang after jumping rope for five minutes. But pain doesn’t matter anymore, especially when you’re IN the workout. My mind drifts and I use my half-hour of cycling to ruminate over the topic-of-the-day.

Today’s topic was Architecture.

There’s this little aisle upstairs at Cal Poly’s Rec Center (my school’s fancy name for “the gym”) where exercise-holics like myself lift free-weights, do their ab workouts, stretch, et cetera. And this morning while I was on my 39th crunch, my mind slipped into Architecture when I looked up at the rib-vaulted ceiling. I’m crazy, I know…I’m only a freshman and notice the overlooked details of most buildings. What can I say? My professors have trained me to see the world this way.

And during my crunch time (no pun intended), I realized how appreciative I am for my place in this university. Before I even came to Cal Poly, people told me that I’d work my butt off as an arch student, that I’d regret taking the harder of two possible freshman architecture classes, that I wouldn’t learn the “fundamentals” of my field by taking the “abstract” design courses. But I have to say, I’m beyond thankful for taking that risk, for having the balls (for lack of a better term) to enroll in Arch 130. Looking back to September, it feels like I’ve been studying this material for well over a year. We’ve turned in over 25 phases of several projects and models, traveled down to LA to see some amazing buildings, felt our way around computer rendering programs, and in the mean time have hand-drafted, hand-drafted, and hand-drafted some more. We’re currently knee-deep in our first group project and about to construct our first full-scale model. It’s so exciting!

And after thinking about it, practicing architecture has a cycle comparable to that of exercise. At first it sucks staying up late to complete a model that looks like an atom, then you just kind of accept the amount of work you have to do (while still complaining about how little sleep you’re getting) and the insane amount of money you spend on materials. Now it’s at a steady uphill slope where I expect to work my butt off, I expect the time-consuming assignments, I expect going to sleep at 2 am. I’ve become immune to complaining. And when I look back onto my first-year experiences, I know I’m gonna appreciate all the crap that comes with design.

Where would I be had I decided to take the easy way out? At my desk constructing a frivolous model out of Styrofoam and cardboard, never knowing how satisfying it feels to do crunches upstairs in the Rec Center.

C’est la vie,


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