I really like going to my gym. I love to be around the positive energy. Regardless of what someone’s age, gender or physical condition might be, I have always figured that if a person has made the effort to go to a gym, they have made and acted upon a decision to try and do something positive for themselves. I respect that, and I very much like being in that environment. And I’ve often found that all it takes is one other person to offer an encouraging word to make my entire day.
Still, there are times when I just don’t feel like going. And I’m keenly aware that when I put it off for more than a few days, my sense of well-being suffers noticeably. Despite that, I encounter times when I don’t feel I have the juice to go and put enough effort in to get something out.
On days when I do overcome the “blahs” to end up completing an exercise routine anyway, I feel so much better. And yet, working out my body, I’ve found, is not the only tangible benefit I can take from choosing the treadmill over the couch.
Showing Up …
This past weekend, I found myself in the midst of a particularly busy stretch of days. I hadn’t had much sleep the night before, I was rushing from one event to get ready for another that evening, and quite frankly felt somewhat overwhelmed mentally. I certainly did not feel like pushing up any weights or running any considerable distance on a treadmill. But I ended up at the gym anyway.
Once there, I did not even end up doing much exercise. I had a serious case of the “blahs.” I jogged for a little while and tried some stretches and yoga poses (and I use the term “yoga poses” very loosely. Recklessly, even. But I’m trying to learn). Satisfied I’d at least justified the change into workout clothes, I then decided to sit in the sauna for a little while to do a mini-meditation before getting myself cleaned up and on with the rest of the day.
Now for a quick aside: I’ve always been very comfortable speaking in front of crowds, or delivering a radio broadcast or even singing and performing in front of people. But whenever it would come to very standard, idle chit-chat with passersby, I have preferred to be left alone for as long as I can remember. I’ve since changed, but I had to force myself to change. It is coming more naturally to me now, but I had to make the choice to look up instead of down and to say “hello” instead of nothing. I’ve always been somewhat puzzled by the tendency.
Looking Up …
On this day, I admit I thought I’d be happy to be left alone for a few moments. I was still mentally tired. I didn’t feel I’d put in much of a workout. And I still had many hours of busyness ahead of me yet before the day would be out. I’d have been pleased to just sit there and sweat.
That’s when an older gentleman of Portuguese decent came into the sauna and sat down across from me. In years past, I admit, I’d have perhaps nodded a polite greeting and then continued to stare at the ground. But I’ve changed. For the better.
Instead, I looked up and asked, “How is your day going, my friend?”
His body language changed. Instantly. Visibly. His shoulders relaxed. His face smiled. His eyes brightened.
He said, “Oh, good, good! And you? You are good?”
He and I began to chat, and although his English is a little broken and my Portuguese is non-existent, we managed to have a very pleasant conversation just the same. We talked about weather. We talked about soccer (which I know little about). We talked about hockey (which he knows little about). And we talked about how much better we each feel if we make the effort to come to the gym.
We also talked about how much we each appreciate the other being willing to talk.
Cheering Up …
I ended up leaving both that conversation in my visit to the gym feeling exponentially better than when I had gone in, and it had nothing to do with lifting weights or spin classes. It was simply because of a genuine few moments of pleasant interaction with a person from a different culture and generation than me. In the time I was talking with that gentlemen, not a single thought about anything else occurred to me except for engaging in conversation with him. It was freeing and relaxing, and I continue to be amazed how it really does not take much to brighten not only someone else’s day, but your own in the process.
It’s worth considering. Whether you’re at a place to do a workout or to buy a bag of groceries or to sit and wait at the doctor’s office, everybody else there with you is struggling in some way too. It costs absolutely nothing to smile and have a pleasant word. Why not? More often than not, you will benefit directly from that by way of good feeling anyway.
When I go to the gym, I feel good. Many times, it’s because my muscles feel harder.
Other times, it’s because my heart feels softer.