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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mommy...I'm scared of the spandex monster...

I just realized today that not only am I getting great physical benefits from the gym but it's turned out to be an environment that I truly enjoy.

Going in, my expectation was that it would be a place full of judgment and discomfort. Seriously. You've seen the commercials for fitness gyms. Bunch of skinny or muscle bound people running around in spandex or less, slappin' each other's butts with towels...with their biceps and their triceps and their quads and their gluteus minimis all flexin' about almost mocking you through the screen. All the while sipping on some high protein, low carb, super blugreen algae shake delivered to them in the sauna or at their shiny workout station between reps of 7,000lb leg presses or their third circuit of Hungarian dead lifts while they're spotted by their own personal trainer cloned from the combined DNA of Mr Atlas and Sheena queen of the jungle! Meanwhile, I'm sitting there, gluteus maximus firmly rooted to my slowly shrinking sofa, couch or davenport for those of you up north, munching on a day old pizza wondering why I can't look like that! Anyone else...I know I'm not alone in this...

What I've found is quite the opposite. It really is terrible how much many of us make of our own perceived sort comings, so much so, in fact, that we expect everyone else to pick up on it and react a certain way. It can be very unsettling or at the least confusing when our expectations are not met and we are, instead, treated with...*GaSp* respect... "Wha? huh? Respect? But I'm not worthy of respect am I?!" "Just look at how I feel about myself...I don't respect me why should others?"

Since I've been at the gym What I've found is that, first of all, people are generally much too into what they're doing to take time to be judgmental of others. Then there are the folks who take out one ipod ear plug long enough to ask you politely, if you are almost done with (insert equipment name here). And the ones who do really acknowledge you are the type of people who are typically genuine in nature and will often toss a sincere smile your way or ask you how your workout is going or if they have spoken with you before they may feel comfortable enough to jokingly scold you about not wanting to "catch you slacking on your workout". Women, who I know would not give me the time of day on the street engage me in genuine conversation as if there were none of the stereotypical physio-social boundaries that exist in the "real" world. Just being there and putting in effort brings with it a certain respect and even camaraderie that one might not expect until experienced.

I'm not sure why I wanted to bring this up except that I know that people can be afraid of taking that first step and getting into some sort of public/social exercise arena. I say do it! It'll do worlds of good for your self esteem and worlds of good for your health!


Blogger TH said...

Great story, so funny!

Gyms often give the impression of being like the Globo Gym, while they often are more like the Average Joe's... :-)

At first, I thought people would sneer at the light weigths I'd have to use, but I also quickly found nobody cares. And I think you're right - no matter how you look and what kind of training you do, there's a sense of camaraderie in the gym. All that matters is that you are there, doing training, you have taken the step towards a more active, healthier life. I tells more about you than how you look or how much weight you can load to that bar.

Also, I'm sure that it extends to other walks of life as well. Even if people felt bad about themselves and even hated the way they look, other people don't see them in such a negative light. We are always the hardest critics of ourselves, others are generally more kind. And those people who aren't don't really matter.

4:39 AM, July 23, 2006  
Blogger The EYE said...

well said, sean. not only in point (which is spot-on accurate), but in your writing style.

man you can write. well done.

1:20 PM, July 23, 2006  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Hey that is really wonderful that you are feeling welcome and comfortable at the gym. I am happy to hear that people are somewhat friendly and also that there is an element of folks just busy doing their stuff and keeping on keeping on. I imagine just seeing people focused on their iPods and working out would be a little inspiring too?

Just cheking in to say hi again...

good writing and perspective as usual Sean!
love ya!

2:15 PM, July 23, 2006  
Blogger Invader Stu said...

I was very nervous about the first time I went to the gym but as you said everyone is very nice. There was only one person who was a big show off and looked down on people. He would make fake grunting sounds, brag about what he could lift, drops the weights instead of putting them down and stare at all the women. It was not long before he was asked to leave and never come back which I thought was funny.

2:22 PM, July 23, 2006  
Blogger haggardmom said...

I remember when I made my first appointment with the personal trainer, the guy who set it up told me she had been a trainer for years & was a power lifter. I remember thinking 'oh great- probably some too-happy twig'. Turned out she is in her mid-40's, very stout, with legs like tree trunks LOL. I'm not the least bit self concious with her. So far my experience has been that the few muscle-heads that are there are usually too busy spotting themselves in the mirror while they're lifting and don't pay attention to anyone else. :-)

10:37 PM, July 23, 2006  
Blogger Sean Perkey said...

th: Yeah like Globo gym! ;) You're right. we are much harder on ourselves than others will likely be. so true..

the eye: Thanks again man. I'm just so relieved that I could fit in so quickly and feel comfortable. It's kind of like th person who cleans up before the maid gets there so that they aren't embarrassed by the mess..I no longer think I have to be in shape before I go to the gym...kind of liberating.

Candy: Hey how goes it? goood to see you!Yep...just people doing their thing. there may be something to be said for working out releasing hormones that make us happier and there for nicer...who knows...I wonder if there has been a study?

Invader Stu: I guess there are going to be jerks everywhere. There are a couple of people that I've een throwing the weights down for attention but they seem to travel in packs so they get attention from their friends and pretty much leve everyon else alone...

haggardmom: Some of the best people I've met there are the trainers and the sales people. A few of them are like me...lost a bunch of weight and decided to work there. I think it's great and adds to a nurturing environment.
good to see you again!

1:50 AM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger Roy said...

I felt the same way about the group of folks that I occassionally trailride with. I worried about being the fat newb and not being one of the cool kids. There was no reason to worry. everyone was cheerful and friendly, and, well, normal.

They just look better in lycra than I do =)

8:43 PM, July 24, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know for a fact that you are not the only one who feels this way - i do too!! you are so wonderful sean and i look forward to hanging out with you again!

<3 kris (still in santa cruz!)

11:59 PM, July 24, 2006  
Blogger Sean Perkey said...

Roy: Oh yeah! bikers wear the dreaded spandex as well...
I wrote a post about really wanting to get vack into riding a bike when i lose lot of weight... now I wonder hat I'll wear...*gasP* j/k

Kris!!!: I haven't seen you in forever! Did you know that Justin Farren won the sammie for folk/ accoustic this year? I miss you kiddo..looking forward to seeing you too. Let me know when you're in town...k? And, please keep posting. It's good to hear from you.

Ladies and Gentlemen!......... Kris!

1:41 AM, July 25, 2006  
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