I was going to come here and write a humorous post about all the annoying things people do at the gym. From hopping across four different cardio machines in a fifteen minute period to sitting on a weight machine for twenty minutes without ever lifting weights and of course including the girl who comes in with perfect hair and leaves with nothing out of place or sweaty, I had been collecting these stories over my last few weeks of regular gym going. Then last night happened and I realized that I don’t have the perspective on these people to judge and that I need to be kind.
This week has been a poor one for getting to the gym. Sure, we could have gone, but after long days of having our stuff packed out, we were stressed. So last night was the first day we made it back. I ended up going in two sessions; my midafternoon session was my half hour of running intervals on the treadmill followed by lifting and my evening session was fifteen minutes on the stair master followed by the bike.
Which brings us to the incident. B and I were leaving the gym and he was drenched in sweat. While I was no rose, I also wasn’t visibly mussed. The stair master may have caused me to sweat, but sitting on the bike and using its fan had rendered that nearly invisible. We saw an acquaintance and stopped by to share battle stories over wrangling orders and all.
And that’s when she said it, “Oh are you coming from the yoga class?” Directed at me in this accusatory way as if, somehow, yoga wasn’t enough. I negated that and she followed it with, “Do you have B doing all the sweating for you then?” I turned it into a joke. Told her that I made him wear my heart rate monitor (I don’t even have one of those) so that I could claim his calories. Still, she pushed. I finally retorted that this was my second gym trip of the day and laid out all I had done. She had to get the last word in with a final, “Oh if it’s your second trip, I guess you don’t have to sweat.”
After we walked away, I asked B if I was crazy or if she was implying that I didn’t appear to have worked hard enough. He told me my only mistake was thinking it was implied rather than said outright.
It stung. Because I did work out hard that day. Because I do work out hard during my exercises. Because I am working out a lot. But since she couldn’t see it, she judged me for leaving the gym not drenched in sweat.
It made me think about how often I do this to others. I know that I work out in segments – a half hour of treadmill or elliptical, twenty minutes of lifting, fifteen on the stair master, and then another twenty or so on the bike. When I finish the first of the cardio, I’m drenched in sweat; but after lifting weights I’m not anymore. Same with the stair master and the bike. And that’s okay, I know why I do what I do on the bike. It loosens my muscles and keeps me from being unable to walk the next morning.
But what if someone came in to see me sitting on the bike, just calmly pedaling away and then they only see me do that. Do I want them judging me? Do I want them thinking that I’m not working hard enough or just taking up valuable space? Of course not.
Thus is the end of my funny gym stories, before they even began. Now I try to remember that I don’t know the other person’s gym routine, much less their story. I’ve come away from that incident last night, just thinking that we need to be kinder to each other.