Image Building and Masculinity in the Gym

Soc 319


In my research at the Manley Field House gym for student athletes, I have come up with the conclusion that males, mirrors, and conversation are associated with masculinity, image and social behavior at the gym. I have come with the conclusion that there is some type of mirror syndrome. This is for the people in the gym who lift weights but spend an extraordinary amount of time looking at themselves in the mirror for extended periods of time. A lot of these people use the mirrors to check out how their progress is going usually to check out their muscle mass and definition. But at the same time the mirror syndrome people use the mirrors to unconsciously compete with others and check out others in the gym with a non-verbal type of communication of social interaction by showing of what they got and expecting others to show them up, in what I would call a silent competition. At the same time the reason for this self image and masculinity I think it helps these guys be more sociable. Also I think these guys that work out and try to have these super bodies usually have image problems of what they look like and feel like they always have to compete with the guy next to them especially if that person is more physically fit or even if that person isn’t as fit as them.

I believe a lot of this macho ness is due to the media and the Medias representation of what the ideal male body image should look like as it has grown more muscular over the years. You can see this every where in popular culture going from magazine, soap operas, movies, to the WWF. For example actors like Arnold Swaztenagger to the rock represent masculinity in Holly Wood. To me it seems like the media plays a big role on how we look at ourselves with images of masculinity that are seen culturally in icons of appearance in our culture. To me it seems that these images are socially constructed in gyms all across the world that’s why I decided to my research in the Manley field house gym to study image building and masculinity in the gym. To me it seems like the gym is its own culture in its own right that represents masculinity image in our culture. What I have seen in the gym it has many types of different social interaction, different types of people, and people their for different reasons.

Even from a young age lifting at the Manley Field House gym, even at the age of eighteen I felt all the testosterone in the room and felt the competition that was going on in the gym. At this young age is where I saw lifting weights personifies masculinity among your peers and you always had to compete not only against yourself or against a teammate. For me it was weird because in high school you lifted to feel good about your self, now competing in the gym to fulfill that image of masculinity that has been created by our culture.

Description of Setting

As we know for the past couple weeks I have been observing the Syracuse University Manley Field House Gym for all of the student athletes. Since I am part of the Syracuse University football team I decided to become a participant observer and sit in on some of the work outs this is how I was able to record as much information I could that was possible. In observing the football team I couldn’t help but to notice how each player would try to out due each other even though besides the lifting each pretty much shared the same goal which is to win games. To me it seemed funny because in the sport that we play the guy next to you, you’re supposed to have his back not be competing against him. To me this was strange to see because teammates fitting over mirror space and being so self conscious of themselves and one another. The Syracuse University gym is located next to South Campus in Manley Field house. Just as you enter through