I promote a lot of diversity on my socials, in my profession and personal life. People face barriers everyday from big to small. We’re so busy these days though that we rarely stop to reflect on the fears and other things that we’ve overcome. Most people may consider these things as ‘something they had to do’ but mentally in our subconscious, overcoming obstacles plays more of a role in our lives than we might think.
Anything done within the walls of a gym or a physical fitness center is charged with motivated people, goal-setters and PR breakers BUT behind the triumphs, there’s something bubbling beneath the surface few talk about that needs to be normalized. Fitness and exercise is an extremely vulnerable process because essentially what you are doing is you are purposely putting yourself in a somewhat uncomfortable position, depending on where your mental headspace is, on a continuous schedule and purposefully making yourself sore for the sole purpose of being healthy. It sounds bad when you box it up like that, right?
Well, for individuals who have an affinity to working out or who are nervous about trying something new, this is what it can feel like. However, they do it anyway because these people realize that there are more benefits that come out of being in an uncomfortable situation for a while. Now I realize not everyone feels like this obviously but at some point in their journey, even the biggest bodybuilder has had their emotions tested and has become vulnerable. I don’t care how big or macho your are.
So, keeping this in mind, what’s the bottom line here? Like I said before, any situation you are made to feel nervous, scared or anxious is incredibly nerve-jarring and mentally, can really screw with your head. This is why fitness is considered a vulnerable experience and it’s also a shared experience. So, in theory, we should all be empathetic in the gym when we see somebody who’s new or doesn’t know what they’re doing, right? I wish things were this black and white but of course, they aren’t. At some point, people tend to forget that feeling of being new and eventually their egos take over. We do need to create a more positive gym culture across the board and learn to squash those negative behaviors when we see them. The best thing that we can keep in mind is to not forget how it was when we started and that at some point, we were all beginners.
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John Schessler, Jr. is a Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer working outside of Pittsburgh. He is also writer, actor and host of his podcast, "ManAlive!", available on Apple and Spotify Podcasts. Please email all comments and inquires to firstname.lastname@example.org.