It was mid-Saturday morning – peak time at my local health club, every machine in use, every class filled, music blasting, over-animated instructors and trainers yelling motivational direction at their subjects and all the regulars clad in his/her best workout gear of the week. Now usually I’d be in my element running, cycling or swimming, but I happened to be struggling with a naggy head cold and after days of rest I decided to try and test some easy cardio. I chose to jump on the ‘arc trainer’, which is an interesting breed of the elliptical machine. Within not three minutes I was bored to tears (not yet strong enough to do a dynamic workout ;), so I began observing people around me….
Immediately I was intrigued by the man ‘arcing’ on the machine next to me: no headphones, no book, no distraction, just a big man working very hard; clearly this was not his idea of an enjoyable morning. I decided to strike a conversation and to my delight we hit it off beautifully carrying on an insightful and thoroughly interesting conversation. Amazing what can happen when we unplug and interact with other humans.
In about 20 minutes of elliptical time, I got to know this man very well – he opened up about his own weight loss journey and gave me insight into his feelings on exercise and gyms. I often forget how most people view this subject. While there is the minority of the world (i.e. me), that love to workout, to experience physical pain and discomfort and to be in the midst of others all doing the same thing, the majority of the world gets anxiety just thinking about it. Most people would prefer to avoid the pain and sweat they must endure to get that perfect ‘beach body’, not to mention the whole psyche associated with the gym: “what to wear?? Am I not doing as much as the guy next to me? Everyone is probably staring at me. I look horrible working out. I sweat too much. I’m not sure what to do with myself when I’m there. Is there proper gym etiquette???” These, and many more, are all common thoughts that most people encounter.
Well, Thomas (this is what we will call my new friend), candidly talked about the struggles of being out of shape and uncomfortable with the whole gym setting, “ It’s never been my thing, no matter how much I try, I just don’t get the endorphin high everyone talks about after a workout. In fact, I feel like I just endured torture and need a nap!”
So, as tough as it has been, Thomas has been coming religiously to the gym and putting in the hours of hard work to achieve his new healthy lifestyle goals (and already 60lbs lost!). As intimidating as it was in the beginning, he did it – overcame the feelings of embarrassment, pain and struggle AND although he still doesn’t find it enjoyable, it is no longer something he dreads. I am confident that Thomas will soon feel that ‘great endorphin high everyone is always talking about’. It WILL come, the key is consistency, hard work and dedication.
AND for all the Thomas’ out there, don’t worry about what people are thinking of you, the truth is, most people are too consumed with themselves to notice what you’re doing at the gym!