Winning friends and influencing people

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Yep, that's me "back in the day"

When you’ve been working out for a long time, in a relatively small geographical area, you tend to meet the same people over and over again regardless of how many times you change gyms, or how dramatically you change the days and times you exercise. Not being the social type at the gym, I have a barely discernible “nodding” relationship with these people; meaning, that when we see each other, we don’t walk over and do bro hugs, or talk about our kids. No, most of the time, we just give each other a knowing nod, perhaps a smile, and we move on to the next set.

Long story short, we aren’t friends, or buds. We just…have a casual run-in kind of relationship.

There are a lot of people like myself in the gym. We come in with our headphones on, and we do our thing and we leave. There are also people who come in and spend a good 1/3 of their time talking to others. Those people are usually there a lot longer than the former group, but hey, it’s their time.

Lately, time has been taking its toll on me. Part of it, I think, was overtraining. But regardless, it all boiled down to the fact that I just didn’t have that burning desire to go hurt myself on a daily basis anymore. I dunno…call me crazy. Too, I think a lot of it has been stress–stress from a new whiny baby; stress from a new job; stress from just…I dunno…stress. In response, I’ve cut back a bit. I take at least one extra day off per week and so far, it’s working for me.

The other day I was at the gym and in walked in a fellow I’ve seen for nigh on ten years. He was at my last gym and now he’s at my new-ish gym. He’s short–prolly 5′ 4″, but he’s built like a little brickhouse (and I mean that in weightlifter terms, not in a “he’s got a bit of the gey” terms).  He’s always sort of walked around like he owned the place, or so I felt, and I generally don’t mix it up with people like that.

But, within a few minutes, he ended up on the bench next to me and I figured, “What the hay” and spoke up:

“Hey man, I haven’t seen you around in a while. Did you change your workout times, or have you just been absent?”
As I said this, I noticed that he too, had a bit of the gray going on his sideburns and for just a moment there, I felt a kindred spirit.

“Nah, I work out at about 5:30 in the morning, so I miss most of the people here,” he said.

I just nodded.

“Plus,” he continued, “Nowadays, I’m just trying to maintain, you know?”

I did know, and I responded in kind. And that was it. End of discussion.

But as I wrapped up my workout and reflected on our brief conversation, it struck me that he seemed like a pretty cool guy. And, knowing that people have told me how unapproachable I appear at times, I wondered if others look at me the same way.

And then I thought, “What a waste.”

I wonder how many potential friends I’ve missed out on because of my “leave me alone” attitude? But, it’s not that I’m dying for friends, but the older I get, the less important things like “work” are to me and more important quality time is–both by myself and with other people. It’s funny how we change over time.

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4 thoughts on “Winning friends and influencing people

    Lojo said:
    January 18, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    For me it takes effort to ‘chat up’ someone I don’t know. I’m not a natural at small talk so it’s easier for me to do the nodding acknowledgment rather than chat. What I really wish is that I had carte blanche to ask all of the uncool questions that rattle around in my head. Fortunately I have a filter that shuts me up (maybe that’s why I don’t talk much…afraid I’ll slip my filter!) I am very curious about people’s lives, but apparently not enough to extend myself in conversation!
    Sweet photo!

    Eric said:
    February 24, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I dont know what it is but at the gym I dont see it as a social place… you do your thing and you go.. headphones are there for a reason.

    That’s just how I do when I work out.
    But, overall I am a social person… don’t feel like you have wasted any time.

    Eric said:
    February 24, 2010 at 10:28 am

    BTW how old are you in that picture?

      dobeman said:
      February 24, 2010 at 10:42 am

      I think I was 21 at the time. About two years earlier, I was overweight and sitting in my dorm room eating pizza and toll house cookies. One day I just got tired of it. The guys that ran the gym on the Army base I had to live on said I was the “poster child” of turnarounds. Now I can’t imagine life without my workouts. I know that when I’m 80 and my muscle tone has turned to crap, that none of it will matter, but I still gotta try, ya know?

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