To the Editor:

An article last week (“Social pressure drives Yale students to exercise,” 1/29) asserted that lots of Yalies are working out and that they’re doing so largely because of peer pressure. Right. And that’s why so many Yalies — including myself — have abs that are pillow-soft and thighs that are, well, thick.


Indeed, at Yale there is much more of an attitude against working out than there is peer pressure for it. It’s as if we didn’t have time. We’re Yalies, and the clock is running. We accept not working out, just as we accept messy rooms; we’re too busy for that.

So about 1,000 people frequent the Adrian C. “Ace” Israel Fitness Center at Payne Whitney Gymnasium each day. Big number, but is it? There are about 12,000 people — undergraduates, graduate students and other gym members, not counting varsity athletes and runners — who could climb the four flights and turn left to the smell of sweat and clang of dumbbells. But they don’t. National studies have shown that college students, on average, exercise at a much higher level than Yalies.

Larry Matthews, an associate director for sports and recreation at Payne Whitney, remembers the days when there were far fewer people frequenting the gym. Until the new center opened in August 1998, the Payne Whitney was not an appealing facility, he says.

As much as I’d like to see a greater turnout at the gym and be a part of it more often, I would never dream of exerting peer pressure on someone to exercise. That’s not what exercising is about. Working out is a movement into a physical zone that is appealing in itself. But it’s a zone that takes hard work to get to — hard work that wouldn’t be worthwhile merely to blend in with one’s peers.

Louise Story ’03

february 3, 2002

The writer is a former news editor at the Yale Daily News.