So there you are, New Year’s resolution in hand, dumbbells by your side, muscle shirt equipped. You look around the gym and see everyone else is in his or her workout zone: maybe listening to some music, grunting painfully, or just a face furnished with a stare of sheer focus. You pick up your weights and get to it, determined to get seriously “yoked” before summer 2014 (let’s see how many of these workout terms I can fit in this post).
Now I’m not sure about the rest of you because I know everybody has their own workout routines and habits but I always find that I enjoy exercise with other people. I’m the type of person that really enjoys a good gym buddy. Going to the gym isn’t just all about working out and getting “deeced” (muahaha another) but I have found that it is also a great time to catch up and socialize with a good friend or two. You also just have more fun and push each other harder when you have that extra person to laugh with and to occasionally call you a wuss.
Unfortunately, to my dismay, when this semester rolled around none of my gym buddies schedules lined up with mine and thus I was forced to workout all by my lonesome. Which brings me to the real topic of this post, working out like a loner! Or rather (“loner” has a negative connotation to it) working out independently!
The first thing that I noticed when working out alone is how serious everyone looks. It’s like they all just walked out of the worst exam ever and are there to blow off some serious steam (hey who knows maybe some of them are). But let’s break it down and be real now, all those stoic faces and angry brows can’t be the result of a negative attitude. Rather it is just the norm for a lot of people at the gym. Next time you hit the AC look around, some people have gym buddies but most are actually by themselves.
Now don’t get me wrong here I’m not the sensitive type that gets all “boo hoo” when I see students and other jacked beings give focused angry looks the whole time but I think that it really sets the tone of the gym as sort of a scary place. Plus who wants to be around angry looking people for an hour or two? Not this guy.
It does have an effect of how a lot of people view the AC as well (at least thats my theory). Lots of students at U of T will tell you that the strength and conditioning centre at the AC is just too much of a guys place or that it’s intimidating for them. I’ve been working out there for over a year now (with friends) and it didn’t seem intimidating at all but the funny thing is now that I’m working out alone I totally feel way more intimidated there. It’s an odd thing that I never would have predicted. You feel sort of as though everyone is watching your every move, and judging you a bit.
So, being the awkward and social (at times) person that I am, I decided the other day to just start up a convo with the guy doing some curls to my right. I asked him what he was working on today: arms and shoulders? arms and chest? bi’s and tri’s? It didn’t really matter I just thought that since we were resting up between sets beside each other that it would be a good opportunity to break the awkward silence and stares for a quick mingle. Instantly we just started casually talking and even encouraging each other to do just one extra rep. It turns out his name is Jefferson and he studies physics in his second year. Bam! Awkward silence broken!
Now I know this sounds all Disney-Channel-scripted but the truth is it won’t happen that easily everytime. The next person I started talking with ignored me completely but who cares anyways? He probably had one scoop too many of his protein powder and thus lost his hearing (only kidding). My point is that the gym can no doubt be an intimidating environment especially when you first start and if you are there alone. Just keep in mind that even though it seems like everyone there is watching your every move, a lot of them are thinking the same thing and are only stoic and serious because they are working out alone. So try just striking up some quick chit chat with a fellow gym enthusiast next time. Together I think we can make the gym a much happier place, I mean what happened to the old days where you could just say “hey” to a stranger? It seems that we are so caught up on our smartphones that now the idea of simply doing something in common with someone and saying “whats up” is abnormal or something.
So if you are feeling social between sets next time you are at the gym just try leaning over and asking someone about their workout. After all you can learn a lot from others at the gym. For those of you feeling extra courageous maybe throw in a “nice swole there bud”.