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Ernest Calderon Rios 2/6/14

Rhetorical analysis of a space - second draft


Ah, the gym. Or as the University of Central Florida calls it, the Recreational Wellness Center. Consider this a space to be analyzed rhetorically. I will assess the gym in regard to LeFebvre's trilectic space theory (perceived, conceived, lived), as an active space. I shall also incorporate the ideas of Dolmage and Reynolds. The former wrote about universal design, steep steps, and retrofitting, while the latter made connections to feminism and gender roles through the rhetorical analysis of active space. The conceived space part of the trilectic is comprised of the layout of the space, along with orientation and signalization. The RWC is massive: two stories fully equipped with state of the art workout equipment, weights of all sorts, a track, a pool, several basketball, volleyball, and racquetball courts, a rock wall, and a subway. All sorts of people come to the RWC everyday, whether they are on a strict routine or just casually getting fit. The grand majority and quite possibly all of them - are UCF students, since the gym membership is included in our tuition costs. It is located off of Gemini boulevard, across from a busy intersection with garage B. The main entrance faces this intersection, a long flight of stairs leading from the ground to the door. Dolmage might say that these stairs are a perfect example of his "steep steps" metaphor. The metaphor simply stated that certain spaces are accessed by literally climbing a steep flight of steps. A nice big UCF seal divides the stairs in two, with bushes lining the space in between. I have seen people walking down these stairs when they leave the gym. Some are weary beyond exhaustion, sometimes leaning over to puke into the bushes. Others are fully energized, ready to take on the day. There is a side entrance, but no ramp. Dolmage would immediately frown a scowl of disapproval. There are some offices that can be entered through the first floor, but the workout area can only be accessed from the second floor, with stairs leading down to the first level. I don't know how someone who cannot climb stairs would be able to enter the gym, but once they

Ernest Calderon Rios 2/6/14


get inside, I think that there is an elevator all the way in the back. Maybe there is a secret back door for them. These logistics could have been improved by building an elevator at the front of the building, or at least a ramp by the side entrance. Better yet, maybe they could have placed the entrance on the first floor? I'm not quite sure what the purpose of putting on the second was. Possibly to make people climb some stairs before and after their workout? Or maybe it was their way of saying, "if you can't climb these stairs, you probably shouldn't enter this gym." Dolmage might say that the gym's stairs are a perfect example of hisIf there is some form of universal design incorporated into the RWC, it is not prevalent by any means. Accessibility at the RWC is really only for those in adequate physical condition. I find this ridiculous because while at the gym I have seen promotions for wheelchair basketball, among other disabled-centric events. Dolmage might argue that this is a form of retrofitting: the gym is trying to make up for lack of accessibility with a temporary solution. Proceeding with the trilectic, the perceived space is rows upon rows of cardio equipment on the second level, and various weight machines and free weights on the first level. The cardio equipment includes anything from treadmills to rowing machines, and there's enough of them so that there is always one available. It really does give users the feeling that they are getting their money's worth. Water is accessible, with a couple water fountains capable of easily refilling water bottles. The weights area includes machines for basically every muscle in your body. The free weights section is full of very muscular men, giving users a feeling of this area being one that one does not simply walk into. It is of a higher tier. Only after countless rigorous workouts will one be able to lift on the level that these guys do. The cardio and weight levels are offset, so that the higher level looks down onto the lower. If we consider social norms, and look at the gym as a lived space, we can see that it as if the women working on their cardio can look down and admire the men pumping iron. Likewise, the men can look up and admire the women as they run on the treadmills and ellipticals. Let us

Ernest Calderon Rios 2/6/14


consider what "Feminist geographers are working towards notions of space as paradoxical, provisional, contradictory, fragmented, insisting that divides are real, that differences are material and concrete, and that space cannot be treated as transparent" (Reynolds 20). Reynolds' extended points on feminism in relation to space provoke the idea that the conceptualization of spaces, such as the RWC, fall victim to misogyny, whether it is intentional or not. In regard to gender roles, women are expected to use the cardio machines and work on their flexibility, while men are expected to lift weights. I think we live in changing times, however. A woman now is not going to get the looks she would get a couple decades ago if she were to start pumping iron in the midst of men. A man is not going to get judged if he wants to do an hour on the elliptical. We are well into the twenty first century as a society. The Recreational Wellness Center is a giant, state of the art gym that falls victim to a lack of accessibility. Dolmage's ideas on access come into play when we see that the RWC is not universally designed, and is subject to certain degrees of retrofit. LeFebvre's trilectic theory allows us to rhetorically analyze the gym, an active space, in three distinct ways: as a perceived space, a conceived space, and a lived space. When analyzed as a lived space, we can uncover certain qualities and details that cannot be examined by merely considering the gym itself. In addition to the three aspects of the trilectic working in tandem, the fact that human interactions play a part in the gym as a lived space gives light to the display of gender roles. However, it also shows how these roles are being challenged, opening up new possibilities of spatial relationships.