Authors: Patricia Cheng (Project Lead), Yashas Jain, Irene Zhang, Larry Lu
“Gym bros” are people who enjoy spending their free time at the gym. You can see gym bros everywhere on campus: walking to class, eating at the healthiest dining hall, or working out at the gym in their natural habitat. While the idea of gym bros had been gaining increasing popularity, we were wondering to what extent UCLA students enjoyed gymming, or being “gym bros.”
A survey was conducted online to ask UCLA students about their gym habits. The data was collected between February 19, 2023 to March 7, 2023, and the students answered questions regarding their consistency and frequency to gym, diet, favorite muscle group to target, etc. The full survey can be accessed here: https://forms.gle/UHXFJmPpFnLYZKgQ9. In the 188 responses that we analyzed, we had an approximately equal number of responding male and female students, and a pretty equal spread of people’s frequencies in going to the gym, as shown in Figure 1.
What makes a gym bro, a “gym bro”?
Based on the data collected, it was found that there seemed to be a correlation between how often UCLA students gymmed versus how they classified their gym level. In figure 2, the x-axis shows the gym level that the respondents classified themselves as (beginner/intermediate/advanced), and the y-axis shows their corresponding frequency of gymming per week. The darker the color blue is on the graph, the more students classify themselves as being in that group from the survey. As we can see, people who went to the gym less than three times per week tended to classify themselves as beginner or intermediate, whereas people who went to the gym more than three times a week tended to see themselves as intermediate or even advanced. While most of the gym goers classified themselves as understanding the gym at an intermediate level, the data seemed to suggest that you might need to go to the gym at least two-three times a week in order to be classified as a UCLA gym bro.
Interestingly, there wasn’t a clear correlation between how long people had been to the gym versus how they classified their gym levels. In another graph we computed with Python, while most people seemed to have been to the gym consistently for at least a month, this graph showed no evidence that people who had more experience going to the gym had a tendency to classify themselves as bigger gym bros (Figure 3). In other words, UCLA gym bros did not have to have an incredibly long gym experience; all they needed was to start going to the gym at a decent frequency. However, this raised another question: Did the gym that people went to affect how “gym bro” they were?
Which gym is the “gym bro” gym at UCLA?
There’s a common sentiment among UCLA students regarding the two gyms on campus: that “gym bro” students exercise at Wooden, and more casual gym-goers go to BFit. In conjunction with our overall question “are UCLA students gym bros?”, we decided to assess two main defining aspects of a “gym bro”: their dedication and high skill level. Below, the stacked bar graph shows the relationship between gym going frequency per week and gym center preference (Figure 4). We used the variable “gym going frequency” to measure dedication to the gym, and found out that there was actually an even amount of Bfit and Wooden gym goers from our responses.
On the other hand, the proportion stacked bar graph below displays the relationship between gym center preference and the student’s level classification (Figure 5). We noticed that advanced students tended to go to Wooden more often. Additionally, students who didn’t gym at UCLA were typically beginners who did not have a habit of going to gyms nearby. This result matched our belief that “gym bros” typically go to Wooden, and we concluded that students who worked out at Wooden exhibited more “gym bro” characteristics.
The Social Tendency of Gym Bros
While the survey was voluntary and did not ask for the potential drawbacks for not going to the gym, the dataset we analyzed from the public often indicated that their lack of motivation to go to the gym include not having enough time, not being able to stay motivated, not enjoying exercising as much, etc. As part of our journey to learn more about the elusive gym bro, we wanted to determine whether they were pack animals or solitary creatures.
The idea of a “gym buddy” is not a new concept by any means — the idea behind having someone to keep you disciplined in your workout routine seems perfectly reasonable. But is there actually a high correlation between working out with others and going to the gym more frequently? Furthermore, how important is working out and individual fitness between people who work out alone compared to with others? In order to answer these questions, part of the survey asked UCLA students to rate their fitness level and how important working out was to them from 1–5, whether they worked out alone, with a friend, with a group, or with a class, and how many days per week they went to the gym. This data was then combined with a larger dataset on Kaggle in order to create the visualization below.
It was determined that people who worked out with a friend went to the gym around the same frequency per week as those who worked out alone — 3.17 and 3.20 days per week, respectively. Surprisingly, people who worked out in a group of 3 or more went to the gym much more than the other three categories, clocking in at 3.82 days per week (Figure 6). These people also tended to rate their fitness levels higher than everyone else. One more interesting observation was that while people who worked out in a class environment, like BStrong or Zumba, did not go to the gym nearly as often as the other groups (most likely because these classes meet anywhere from one day a week to every day), they rated fitness as more important than other groups. This made sense, as people who go the length to pay for a class tend to be more serious about their fitness. In short, we believe the gym bro is a social animal that travels in packs.
Gym Bros’ Choice: Favorite Muscle Group to Target
With over 180 responses, we can make several interesting inferences about a sample of UCLA students. An especially interesting variable is the favorite muscle group. Through the radar chart, we can clearly see that the proportion of male and females had a favorite muscle to target during their workouts. While male students tended to prefer working out their chest with a proportion of over 0.31, the female students enjoyed training their legs with a proportion of over 0.36 (Figure 7). It is interesting to note that none of the female students appeared to enjoy working out their chest, as evidenced by the 0 out of 93 female students listing it as their favorite muscle group. Similarly, none of the 88 male students reported abs as their favorite muscle group to work out.
We also investigated the favorite muscle groups students liked to train by their experience level at the gym. As shown in Figure 8, most students with no preferences were beginners. This could mean that they were either trying out exercises, evenly working their body or were not too sure about what to focus on yet. As for intermediate students, the spread of the students was pretty evenly distributed, most likely because they wanted to maintain their gym and healthy lifestyle. The intermediate students were in all of the muscle group categories in the graph below, reinforcing the fact that they weren’t specializing in focusing on certain muscle groups. This was not the case for the advanced members, however, who chose to focus on their chest and back mainly. This was probably because of the gym communities that glorify working the chest and back, mostly for aesthetic reasons (obviously depends on the person and what they want to train specifically). An interesting proportion for the muscle groups is shoulders, which do need focused training to strengthen; the advanced students probably know of this and focus on it a lot more than the other groups.
Another relationship we investigated was between grade levels and their favorite muscle group (Figure 9). We can see that freshmen didn’t really enjoy training their chest but liked training abs. This could infer that freshmen did indeed have less experience and probably were after aesthetic abs. However, it is important to note that the major factor for abs is the diet rather than exercise, though it depends from person to person. We can also see that seniors liked to train their legs, probably due to the large distances they needed to walk from their off campus housing to classes. Legs could also be said to be an introductory muscle group as shown by the large proportion of beginners and intermediate students that stated it as their favorite muscle group.
Other Interesting findings
Finally, the survey asked about whether people had a specific equipment they liked. Some of the ones that were frequently mentioned in the survey include the T-bar row, squat rack, bench press, cable machine, and dumbbells. Since this was not a required field in the survey, and not everyone could be familiar with the gym enough to name their favorite equipment, we could assume that these were some of the more popular equipment for UCLA gym bros. Finally, multiple students also noted in the survey that they wished there could be more gyms on campus than just BFit and Wooden. There are “excessive lines almost anytime between 8am-11pm in both gyms”, making students reluctant to go at certain times of the day. Some also expressed their interests in looking for gym buddies, as they are likely to raise their motivation to go to the gym. It sounds like, in the near future, if UCLA opens up more gym space and offers a platform for students to find their gym mates, the proportion of gym bros at UCLA would substantially increase.
With all of that being said, the gym bros of UCLA can be identified through a combination of unique traits that reflect their fitness-oriented lifestyle and social culture. From their willingness to fit a workout anywhere in their schedule to work on their chest/back to their preference for John Wooden Center over Bfit and tendency to travel in packs, the gym bros represent a unique subculture within the larger ecosystem of UCLA. While they may appear intimidating, they’re still UCLA students at the end of the day, so don’t be afraid to approach one for help or gym advice! Last but not least, thank you and shout out to everyone who filled out our survey, and we hope you enjoyed our article!