When I was 12 years old I frequently got kicked out of a modest little gym located inside Minoru aquatic centre in Richmond. I would hand in my two dollars eighty cents or whatever it cost for a youth drop-in swim, and sneak into the weight room to squat, chest press, and leg raise myself into a state of training-induced bliss.
But I always got evicted halfway through my workout when one of the pool staff would notice that I was too young to be unaccompanied inside the gym (the minimum age was 14 I believe). This happened multiple times a week for a couple months until the aquatic centre finally made an exception for their stubborn gym-obsessed problem child and gave me a free pass to workout in their gym.
I was young back then, too young to articulate why I felt so happy inside the weight room. But now that I’m a little older and I can express my thoughts and feelings better, I wanted to share a running list of reasons I have for why I love being inside the gym:
- Everybody is the same underneath the barbell. It doesn’t matter what kind of money you make, what colour your skin is, or how many Instagram followers you have – the weight gets lifted, or it doesn’t.
- You can walk around barefoot. And no, it’s not dangerous. Drop a 50-pound dumbbell on your foot while you’re wearing sneakers and your foot will still explode. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.
- NSFW, or not suitable for work, doesn’t exist in the gym. Complain about your sex life. Make a toilet joke. Cuss as loud as you want. It’s all fair play inside the four magical walls that we call the weight room.
- Some of the most powerful inspiration can be found in the gym. For example, I’ve trained many women deep into their third trimester of pregnancy who still had the discipline to train every day. In comparison, I do not experience morning sickness, I do not have back pain from carrying around an extra thirty pounds on the front side of my body, and I do not frequently pee my pants when I sneeze, therefore I have nothing to complain about – stop feeling sorry for yourself and get to the fucking gym Patrick.
- The music is bumpin’.
- In terms of workout attire, pyjamas are just as good as expensive dry-fit, which are just as good as old worn-out t-shirts, which are just as good as being shirtless. In other words, you can wear whatever you want and nobody cares.
- Making new friends through shared physical suffering.
- The hour or two of being completely disconnected from e-mail, texts, and social media.
- The process of pumping yourself up before a heavy set of deadlifts: taking a minute to hyperventilate, playing your favourite song, and bumping knuckles with your training partner.
- The process of relaxing your body after a hard workout: deep diaphragmatic breathing, foam rolling, and passive stretching.
- Living inside your body as opposed to inside your mind. Feeling your heart beat inside your chest. Listening to your own breathing. Taking inventory of how your joints and muscles feel. Living through the entire body instead of only from the shoulders up.
- Climbing up onto, hanging off of, and balancing on different pieces of gym equipment.
- Watching myself progress over time.
- Watching others progress over time.
- Helping others progress over time.
- Hanging out in the cultural conglomeration that is the weight room, and being with and learning about people who you would normally never have a chance to interact with outside of the gym.
- High fives, fist bumps, and pats on the back.
Notice that most of the points listed above have nothing to do with the actual process of exercising! The gym is so much more than a place for improving physical fitness, and if you can start to discover that for yourself, then discipline and consistency will no longer feel like a daily grind. I love being in the gym, and whether or not you resonate with any of the reasons I listed, I’d like nothing more than for you to find as much value in the weight room as I do.
As always, if you’d like to know more about, and start taking responsibility for your own health, fitness, and wellness, please reach out to Crux Fitness Richmond for any of your personal training needs.
Patrick Koo – Personal Trainer at Crux Fitness Richmond