Accepted to Boston College? Good luck navigating the complicated environment that is the Plex. Even though it’s about to be replaced by the bigger, better “new Plex,” we’re all stuck with the regular old “Plex” for now. The new Plex will be done summer of 2019. Until then, learn the unspoken rules and agreed upon norms or you’ll stick out like a sore thumb.
Here’s 10 things you need to know about the Boston College Plex.
1. Call it “The Plex.”
The gym is not the gym. It’s the Plex—period. Officially named the “William J. Flynn Recreation Complex,” everyone calls the gym, “The Plex.” It’s definitely not up for discussion.
2. Expect much less than what you see at your local Planet Fitness.
The Plex is outdated. BC has 9,000 undergraduate students, and the Plex is too small to sustain a population this large of gym-loving students. Built in 1972, the Plex is an older facility and many of its characteristics reflect this. The fitness area is the most disappointing, where there are old machines stuffed into a corner of indoor tennis courts. Its layout is also odd, with a weight area covered by an overhang consisting of all the cardio machines. The rest of the Plex has courts, pools and fitness rooms. All in all, the Plex needs a serious physical update.
3. Prepare for HEAT
Not only do you sweat from your work out but you might also pass out from heat stroke. The Plex has no air conditioning for the summer heat. It basically becomes a full-functioning sauna in the beginning of fall semester. There are fans, but they just seem to blow around hot air. In the winter, the Plex is heated, but to an extreme degree. As soon as you enter the doors from the brutal cold of Boston winter, a heat wave hits your body and turns your skin red from the drastic change in temperature. From all this heat and no circulation of air comes a lot of sweat. A frequent Plex-goer and sophomore at BC Malina Donnelly said, “[Recently, I] walked into the Plex and… almost threw up because it smelled like sweat and it was hot as f–k.” If that doesn’t paint a lovely picture I don’t know what does.
4. It’s Busiest Post Winter Break
New Year’s resolutions drive herds of people to the Plex after winter break. And as I said before, it’s not big enough to sustain it. Expect long lines to use machines, no room for floor mats and barely enough space to enjoy a work out in general. Half the time I see people turn around and just leave when it’s that busy.
5. You might feel intimidated
Many BC students would describe the Plex as an intimidating environment. Since many students go to the gym, its filled with people who look very athletic and go through intense workout routines.
6. People Travel in Packs
The intimidation of the Plex plays a large role in its social aspect. Many BC students go to the gym in groups or pairs. They feel comfortable in walking into this place with a buddy or a group of friends, that way they don’t feel so out of place. It’s also common to work out with someone and move throughout the gym together.
7. Guys Do the Weights
The Plex is a gendered environment as well, with unspoken rules about designated spaces for each gender to work out. The guys always go down to the weight area, where you can lift, bench, squat and more. With a large mirror extending across the wall, it’s easy to watch yourself and others work out, which adds to the Plex’s intimidation.
8. Girls Do Cardio
You will never stop hearing girls say that they walk into the Plex and immediately go upstairs to cardio. The overhang overlooks the rest of the gym. More often than not, you see all women working out on the overhang on cardio machines or attending the fitness classes like spin. There is a sense of comfort in the confinement of a fitness room filled with other women. Marie Gaffney, a sophomore, said the Plex is not that bad. “[But I don’t like] how it’s so intimidating because it’s filled with boys.”
9. You’ll Feel Pressure to Work Out
Going to the Plex is a regular activity for most BC students. Friends always ask if you’ve gone, if you’re going or how your workout went. This creates a sense of pressure to go regularly to the gym. I find myself internally shaming myself if I haven’t gone and can’t answer these questions. It’s a social norm to go to the Plex, and this in turn adds pressure to do so.
10. The Environment is super competitive
The pressure to workout ignites an intense competition. People compare their workouts, asking how much you lift, how long you do cardio, what your ab routine is or how intense your workout was. This often drives one to make their workout tougher and better, that way next time someone asks, you share a really good answer.