Personal, personality, personally…

22 Jul

The reasons we each start, or have started, training are personal. My own self disgust along with peer pressure and the pressures of my job coaxed me into the gym and were the foundations of my journey so far. But rather than droning on about me, I’d like to concentrate on those who’s paths I’ve crossed in the last 15 months or so.

Inevitably, people see you progressing in the gym and curiosity leads them to ask about your approach and methods. Well I am one of these people too. I know this will upset some people who believe any conversation should be left in the changing rooms, but I think, carefully timed, a quick conversation adds to the whole experience. Besides the social aspect, there are two main reasons I like to talk training. Firstly I’m nosy, plain and simple, if someone is doing something successfully I want to know how. Also, and to me more importantly, all through my life I’ve craved knowledge, a trait that has definitely followed me to the gym. There are a lot of guys who will train and train for years but never really change shape, size, strength or definition (assuming they aren’t at the top of their game already) and with very few exceptions this is for one reason: Ignorance. Again, I’ve probably upset a few people but I’m afraid in my experience its true. My main evidence for this is myself. My former bodybuilding/powerlifting self was a walking font of misguided information, never quite sure what I wanted to achieve and spending over £200 a month on supplements trying to achieve it.

The simple fact is, whether you’re a weightlifter or a fighter, a bodybuilder or a CrossFitter, you’ll find a lot more people with bad knowledge than good knowledge, and in my experience the ones with the former are the more willing to talk about it! All this has got me to thinking why, why is it everyone who has been to the gym regularly for a few months thinks they are fit to train champions? Well I believe it is simple, in one way or another, every person, male and female, I have spoken to about why they started training has one thing in common. We were all given a hard time. Some of us were just the butt of the odd joke, some more serious bullying. The fact is we all started somewhere and all for a reason. Now I’m not attempting to label every avid gym goer a victim, but whatever the level, we have all felt a little inferior or insecure at one time or another. So this then leads me to see two reasons for the constant ‘advice’. 1) people now have a confidence, results, something to shout about. Almost like saying “make a joke now, I can bench press the world” but in a slightly more humble way. 2) maybe you’re seen as being that vulnerable person, going to the gym to build confidence or beat the bullies. Maybe, just maybe these people are actually trying to help, to inspire. So whilst not all advice is good, listen, nod politely and research thoroughly before you try!

All that I’ve said so far fits nicely into stereotypes, upsetting a few but including the many, fact is though it’s not always the same. Not all power lifters are quiet types, who ignore everyone and only communicate in grunts. Not all bodybuilders high 5 all the time and constantly train topless. Not all CrossFitters whoop and cheer in high pitched tones whilst quoting the bible (though many do). The fact is how a person behaves in the gym, most commonly, is closely linked to a personality they formed years before the entered a gym. Maybe the guy in the corner with his headphones at a deafening level, hitting his own face is just generally not talkative and uses the gym to release aggression, he’s not necessarily rude. Maybe the two guys chest bumping and high fiving after getting an awesome pump on the pec dec actually started a transformation together many years ago. And, maybe the CrossFitters doing those funny pull-ups really fast quoting psalms before they start their ‘WOD’ are actually at their only social activity, the only place where they feel comfortable being like that. My point is there’s a lot of ill natured comments flung from one training style to another (all are guilty) whilst forgetting the main point. We are all at the gym, making ourselves better in our own image (maybe not each others image) whilst many, many more are not. This is certainly NOT me suggesting a ‘fit’ war against the non-physical masses, just credit where credit’s due.

So please remember, the way you train is personal, not for everyone, the way you behave in the gym is your personality, not everyone else’s, and personally we all enjoy what we do.


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