This is an early look at some of the things I’m compiling for my interview project. As I’ll be out of town for spring break, I’m posting things early, although much of my material will be collected through pictures and interviews over spring break.
I’m interviewing 6 individuals to compose a Lift. Swim. Bike. Run. Climb. Meditate. expo, showing how different types of people stay in shape while in college. The first person I interviewed was for the “Lift” category. I experienced minor problems with lighting during the photo shoot, so I might retake some of the shots after spring break. For now, here are two pictures I was happy with and a sample of some of the interview questions. I have yet to decide how I will present the pictures and text during my final project, but I’m hoping for some great ideas over the break!
“Lifting was the first way that I learned how effort leads to improvement. Like any exercise, it’s therapeutic. I can reduce my thoughts to focus on a single area of my body and become a machine with a single purpose.”
I walk into the Trees Hall weight room with Carl, who tells me that the act of walking into the weight room immediately relaxes his mind.
“I know that I am here for something specific, and I am free to focus my thoughts and body on physical improvement.”
Carl grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he learned to lift from his father, who frequently lifted weights in his spare time.
“My dad was the first one to teach me the fundamentals of lifting, along with some techniques. I remember sometime in 8th grade realizing that if I wanted to play football in high school, I had to start lifting. Since then, it’s followed me through the various stages of my life: middle school, high school football, and now in college, where lifting has helped me stay in shape and relieve stress.”
Carl’s younger brother, Christopher, has started to lift, and the two often use lifting as an activity to do together over school breaks when the whole family is home.
“Don’t even hint that I said this, but Christopher’s getting pretty strong. I’m afraid he’s going to out-lift me one of these days.”
Since he arrived at Pitt three and a half years ago, Carl has used lifting as a free form of therapy.
“When I first arrived at Pitt, I didn’t really know anyone. It was comforting to know that I could head to the weight room to better myself, while doing so in a social setting with like-minded people. Now that I’m older, I’ve learned to push myself further physically both to accomplish something with my body and to know, without hesitation, that I have the strength to do the things required for that type of success.”
As I follow Carl through the gym, weaving in and out of machines, we arrive at the free weights, where he tells me a little about his favorite lift: the hang clean.
“The hang clean takes elements from all types of lifts and combines them into a swift, fluid motion. This lift is a great way to test multiple areas of muscle development.”
Carl expects to continue lifting during later stages of life, which, for him, includes law school and hopefully working for a law firm, like his father. Muscles quickly lose size and strength in a process known as atrophy when they are not used, and Carl hopes to avoid this even as he looks towards graduation and the first class of law school.
“For me, lifting isn’t just about being ‘buff’ or ‘getting big’. It’s a way I remain strong, yes, but there’s also the image of strength that is appealing to me. Throughout my childhood, I looked up to my dad because he provided for us and cared for my brothers, sisters, and I, but he also glowed with the image of strength. I’ve always tried to live up to him in this way, too.”