This ethnographic research project aims its research at the site of Malley Fitness Center, the recreation center on the campus of Santa Clara University. This site consists of many activities available for students of the university. Inside the center includes a full gym with free-weights, weightlifting machines, elliptical and cardio machines, cable machines, and other equipment such as abdominal-mats, weightlifting belts, and cables. Malley Fitness Center also includes 3 basketball courts for different sports, an Olympic sized pool with lap lanes, a full room for different classes, and locker rooms for both genders. The fitness center is available for all students and faculty of Santa Clara University, as well as guests who must pay a small fee.
The two creators and analyzers of this project are namely Shaun Henry and Connor Haupt, two current freshman of the university. These students chose this research site due to their strong familiarization with the Malley Fitness Center and fitness itself. Both are in relatively good shape and attend the fitness center on a regular basis.
The raw research was carried out via surveys on pieces of paper. These surveys were passed out around a freshman dorm on campus called Swig Hall, which both Shaun Henry and Connor Haupt are residents of. The surveys were both voluntary and anonymous, and were carried throughout Swig Hall, from door to door, in hopes of finding volunteers. Along with these surveys, recruitment scripts were presented to each of the volunteers. These recruitment scripts gave a detailed description of the project being carried out, as well as the use of its data and importance to the Santa Clara community.
The volunteers were presented with one of two possible surveys. First, the researchers would ask the volunteer whether he or she attended Malley Fitness Center on a regular basis (at least once per week). If the volunteer answered no, he or she was presented with a simple survey asking why they do not attend, as well as his or her gender. This survey was extremely short because the attention of the project was meant to be directed towards attendees of the gym. Therefore, if the volunteer answered that he or she does attend the fitness center on a regular basis, he or she was presented with a much longer survey of 12 questions. This survey included several multiple choice and free response questions that asked about one’s fitness level and habits around Malley Fitness Center. Several sessions of passing out surveys were undergone to ensure a fair amount of data to work with.
However, since these surveys were only passed out in Swig Hall, the data does not represent the entire student community of Santa Clara. The task of representing the overall fitness levels of Santa Clara University would be near impossible for various reasons. Firstly, the surveys were performed entirely voluntary. Also, the surveys were meant to be passed out in a particular area of campus and there could be no perfect spot to completely represent all of the Santa Clara student community.
Therefore, the research was performed in Swig Hall mainly due to convenience. The data does, however, does a great job of representing Swig Hall. It is undetermined as to how well the data represents the freshman class but it may be legitimate to say that it does a “fair” job.
The surveys that ended up being collected were 56 in total, 32 from females and 24 from males. Of these 56 surveys, 47 people said they are regular gym goers and only 9 people do not attend the gym. This data is very representative of the residents of Swig Hall and most of Santa Clara, as most students tend to be physically fit. Furthermore, the average days of attendance per week came out to be 3.5 days and the average time per workout came to be between 60 and 75 minutes.
Of the non-gym goers, 3 gave laziness as a reason for not attending the gym. 2 of these volunteers said that they exercise outside of the gym, 1 said that she is already in good shape, and 2 students were student-athletes who exercised on a different part of campus.
Another question was of if being more or less physically fit affected one’s happiness in life. Of the surveys collected, 42 students answered yes while only 5 students answered no. This shows a strong correlation between one’s physical fitness and happiness of life. Furthermore, this also backs up the notion of Santa Clara being one of the happiest campuses in the nation, according to multiple rankings.
Another question concerned the notion of a gym buddy. According to the results, 17 people recorded going to gym on a regular basis with a gym buddy while only 14 people recorded going alone to the gym. However, more females recorded having a gym partner while more males recorded going alone to the gym. This looks to be the case as more females tend to attend classes than men and prefer going in a group as to alone.
As for the motivations of why students attend the gym, the data seemed to be a bit different between males and females. This question was given in a free response style and for the sake of data was categorized by responses as each one tended to be unique. For males, 2 said that they attend the gym to play basketball, 1 said to get fit, 5 said to get bigger muscles, 4 said to get girls, 6 said to look good, and 2 said to stay fit. On the female side, 2 said to get healthy/fit, 2 said to get stronger, 3 said to look good, 4 said to lose weight, 3 said to stay active/energized, and 13 said to stay healthy/fit. From this data, both sexes have a general consensus as to improve/maintain their physical appearances, but males had a stronger inclination to look good for females and gain muscle while females wanted to lose weight.
Furthermore, another question seems to justify this notion between males and females. For females, 15 said that they want to lose weight, 11 said that they want to maintain their weight, and only 1 wanted to gain weight. On the other side, 14 males said that they want to gain weight, 3 said that they want to maintain their weight, and only 3 said that they want to lose weight. This backs up the notion that males are trying to gain muscle while females are usually trying to lose fat and look trim.
Furthermore, a question was included as to what activities the volunteers go to the gym for. This was a question that said “mark all that apply,” so many students answered with more than one. Of the males, 16 said that they go to the gym to weightlift, 10 said that they do cardio, 4 said that they swim at the pool, 16 said that they go to play sports such as basketball and badminton, but none marked going to classes as an activity. On the other hand, 9 females reported doing weightlifting as an activity, 26 reported doing cardio, 8 females reported swimming on a regular basis, 7 attend classes, but none doing sports of any kind. This trend seems to show that more males tend to go to the gym to do weightlifting and play sports, while females tend to do fat burning workouts such as cardio, swimming, and classes.
As we rounded out our survey, we asked simple questions about some of the rules posted around the gym. When asked if they wiped down the equipment after usage, 15 men said they did not while only 5 said they did. On the other hand, when asked if they put away the weights, 17 males replied yes, while only 3 replied no. As for females, 26 reported wiping down the equipment and only 1 reported not doing so. As for putting the weights away, all females reported doing so on a regular basis. This trend seems to show that females tend to follows the rules of the gym while males do not, especially with wiping down the equipment.
When asked about a personal fitness assessment from 1 to 10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, the males reported an average of 7.2. As for females, they reported an average of 6.4.
This entire aim of this report was to find the strengths and weakness of the gym and to assess the fitness levels and trends that the students of Santa Clara exhibit. Students at this higher-level education institution seem to be very concerned with looks and fitness, and they care a good deal about health and well-being. This is a major trend among college campuses as students are at a very physically great age in their lifetimes. Furthermore, the report included several questions about gym etiquette and the rules at Malley Fitness Center, which seem to need to be better enforced, especially among males at the university. Furthermore, the patterns among males and females showed a great amount of information, some predictable and some eye-opening. The data from this project hopes to inspire and inform others of the importance of fitness and health and its correlation with happiness.