The old stereotype of the gym is that it is seen by many to be this shallow place reserved for bodybuilders and men with high testosterone. Men mindlessly chasing their dream body through a pump. I was always able to see past this stereotype because I know each person in the gym has a story. Something unique about what brought them through the doors for a workout. I am sometimes curious about what’s going in the minds of my fellow gym goers. We’re all here working out, but each of us is thinking about something different. For myself, the gym means different things on different days, and in this post, I’ll tell you what I’m thinking about and use the gym for.
Turning off Mentally: Somedays when I walk into the gym, I can’t wait to turn my brain off. After a long day with the noise in today’s world, the gym is my place to disconnect. I’ll turn off my cell service, throw in the headphones and like clockwork I’m zoned out from everything happening in the outside world. On these days, I go blank, and try not to think about anything but what I’m doing at that place and time. I focus on the contraction and stretch of muscle fibers, my breathing and the music in my ears. Walking out of days like these at the gym is like getting a breath of fresh air. Your head feels clearer; anxiety is greatly reduced and you’re ready to get back into the world. Taking a mini-break from everything is great for when I’m feeling stressed or frustrated, I can hit reset on my day or week and jump back in when I’m done the workout.
Turning on Mentally: I have a hard time walking and chewing gum at the same time, but I have no problems working out and thinking through ideas at the same time. Some of my gym days especially with where I’m at in my career, involve lots of reflection on what I’m doing with my life. If I’m having difficulty with a problem from work or home, the gym is my place to ponder and contemplate uninterrupted. When it comes to solving problems in my daily life, I try whenever possible to practice a variation of first principles problem solving. I deconstruction a problem and then reconstruct with solutions. I find the gym to be the best place to do this. I don’t have the pressure of someone watching over my back like I would at work, and I’m able to think for myself without other putting in their opinions and thoughts like at home. I’m still focused on the lift and putting in a good effort, but on rests I don’t sit on my phone texting. I use the time to work through problems at my own pace which is great for development. This hour and a bit I’m at the gym is great to try and fix problems and find solutions for life outside the gym.
Soon to be “Johnny Two Plates”