Lifting a Chat

Was hanging out with some friends last night, and Ben mentioned how some of the people who go to the same gym as him will comment on his physique. Other than the staff who supervise the gym, I’ve only had one person speak to me ever, since I started working out, and that was to ask how many sets I had left (and I stupidly answered that question wrong. I said I had one set left, but what I meant was that I was on my final set). He turned around and went to work out on another machine. Steve said that he finds it weird that people will ask him how many sets he has left, and then stand around watching him while he finishes.

When I first started going to the gym, I was super self-conscious. I thought everyone was staring at me, and at how I was only doing the lowest weights, and moving so slowly on the cross-trainer. I thought everyone was secretly laughing at how my fat was jiggling around, and how red my face was. I avoided eye-contact with everyone, and if someone was on the machine I needed, I’d just move on to the next one and come back later, even if it meant I had two arm workouts in a row, instead of arms, then legs, then arms. I pretty much gave up on going to the gym during the peak periods, because it was too intimidating.

I read a Reddit thread where people spoke about their gym-going pet peeves, and one of the ones that came up a lot was complains about the “Resolutioners”. At first I thought they were talking about some weird Illuminate-style gym cult, but what they were referring to was the swarm of people join join a gym at the start of the year as a New Year’s resolution, and then hog up the machines to post photos on Instagram about how hard they’re working out.

There were also rants about how some people will go to the gym, do some really low-intensity work out, and then leave. The ranter would talk about how they’re not going to achieve anything, and talk about how they’re a waste of space, and that they wish they’d be kicked out of the gym.

I actually worry a lot that the other people in the gym hate that I’m there. I think I’ve been a member long enough to qualify as a non-Resolutioner, but my workout is still pretty nooby. It’s actually somewhat motivational. Every time I get on the pull-up machine, I feel really proud of myself, because I consider it to be one of the more “hardcore” machines at the gym, and despite the fact that I still can’t pull my own body weight up, I’m really happy about the fact that I can even do a semblance of a pull-up at all. So whenever I’m on that machine, I feel happy about the thought that there could be someone else at the gym watching me do pull ups.

That being said, I’ve started going to the gym Sunday mornings, where there’s barely anyone. Once I was the only person in the gym, other than the staff member there.

Whoa, huge tangent. I just wanted to say that I don’t understand why people chat to other people or watch other people at the gym. When I’m there, I need to put my brain into work-out mode. I need to focus on motivating myself to keep running for just one more minute, and one more, yes, now that there are only two minutes left to run, you might as well keep running, because you’ve already run for 28 minutes, and it would be a pity to stop now. I can’t really get my brain into conversation mode, and try and focus on my workout at the same time.

On the topic of watching people, I find the other people at the gym become faceless blobs to me. All I really process is that there’s someone on that machine, or someone is using the dumbbells I need. In general, I don’t notice what weights they’re doing, what exercises they’re’ doing, nothing else about them really, other than the part of space that they’re occupying. I don’t know, I feel like that’s kind of the etiquette, letting people do their own thing. I try to make myself as unobtrusive as possible. Oh, I lied, I just remembered another encounter I had. I was lifting weights in front of one of those bench things, and someone asked if I was using it, and I said no. Phew, glad I managed to answer that one right.

I wonder if things would be different at one of those hardcore gyms.

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