For the last two years that I’ve been regularly going to the gym I’ve resisted the popular trend of having a gym buddy. I didn’t want to tie myself to someone else. I wanted to be comfortable enough to go on my own, do my own thing, and not need the hand holding of a friend to get by.
These days there are lots of people in my life who go to the gym. I work with a bunch of hard-bodied twenty-something’s who live healthy, active lifestyles for the most part. They’ve all offered at one point or another to go to the gym with me and for the most part I turn them down. A workout is a selfish thing for me. I’m competing against myself, trying to do better than I did the day before. I’ve always resisted bringing someone else in to that. I didn’t want to know the person on the treadmill next to me. I didn’t want to lift next to someone else. It’s not because I’m shy or nervous, it’s because I’m a really competitive person and I worried I would lose focus.
The only person you’re supposed to be competing against in a gym is yourself. Every morning I’m trying to do better than I did yesterday and if you use that as your gauge, you’re always gaining momentum. You’re always getting better, faster, stronger, and more comfortable. There are clear mesaures of success that prove you’re making real progress – and you get numbers you can obsess about improving day over day that have nothing to do with a scale.
In the last few weeks I’ve started working out with someone else. I still go every morning, and now she comes along three days a week. I avoided this for a long time because I was worried I would only be as invested in myself as they were in themselves. Basically, I’d worry I wouldn’t go if they backed out. I didn’t want to tie my wagon to a slow horse!
This month I’m learning there is a way of making it work. My advice would be to wait until you’ve established your own routine, and if you feel you can add someone in to that routine, than you should. You need to remember they’re an addition to your day. If they back out, slack off, or give up you still get up every day and go to the gym because you’ve made a commitment to yourself, and that has to be more important than any artificial commitment you make to someone else. This is your health. Commit to you.
This column originally appeared in the June 4, 2014 issue of The Chronicle Herald – Cape Breton Star.