Dodge gym-goers—agile, strong, and stocked up on pre-workout—make this fitness center an ideal location for crowd-surfing.

It’s the early morning hours in Dodge gym. The Sigma Chi bros who went to bed at 3 am are shuffling in through the doors, pre-workout, Wheaties, and elixirs from last night coursing through their veins. The grind cannot be stopped. The basketball players swipe in next—CU ID, green pass, vaccine card—filling up the court quickly. Graduate students stumble in after late nights of studying, taking their spots on various machines as they repress the fact that they have a seventy-eight page analysis due at midnight. Rowers take their seats on the ergs while runners grab the remaining spots on the treadmills. People retrieve mats to do HIIT, practice pilates, or stretch. Dumbbells are scattered on the floor like empty beer cans in frat houses. The odor of sweat permeates the air. Deep grunts from moist gym bros echo through the walls. 

The time is 6:30 am: I don’t usually go to Dodge this early, but I wanted to get a workout in before class. I scan through the system, show my green screen, and head downstairs. 

The stench hits me as I descend. I can almost taste the creatine on my tongue. There is one treadmill available when I arrive at the bottom level, and I take it. 

Stretching my calves and quads, I begin to increase the speed. At a brisk walk, I plug in my knock-off air pods and press play on “Yikes” by Nicki Minaj. I start to jog, then run. 

Soon enough, the music has drowned out all my senses: I can no longer hear the pounding of nikes next to me, nor the birth-giving groans of someone performing chest presses. I’m not paying attention to the lack of deodorant, nor to my deflating lungs as my medical mask suffocates me. “Yikes,” so emotionally moving, causes my eyes to water until I can’t even read the neon orange digits as they flash on the treadmill’s screen in front of me. The music grows louder and louder. As Miss Minaj serenades me, the lights inside Dodge dim.

Then I begin to hear noise above the Nicki.

Faintly, at first, I hear the sounds of people cheering. My eyes adjust. There she is, on stage: The Harujuku Barbie, herself. Strobe lights beam bright pink and blue. Confetti falls from the ceiling.

Suddenly I am lifted off of the treadmill by strong, Red Bull-powered arms, until I am in the air, crowd-surfing from one set of hands on to the next. Frat boys lift me high above the gym floor, passing me to the pilates moms, then the squash team. Even the ping pong kids join in, their hand-eye coordination so impeccable that they need not even hesitate.

In the air, gliding through the crowd, I am a basketball; a tennis ball; a shuttlecock. I am free. What a beautiful moment: perfect harmony. No one is thinking about their next essay or chemistry test, nor the horrendous dining hall lines; the Carman Cough; the spotted lantern fly. Not a care in the world. Gleeful, lively, untroubled. We are young, and we are beautiful: we are Dodge.

crowdsurfing via wikimedia