Thursday, January 23, 2014

Are Gyms Sociable? (Day 22)

Gym - 40 minutes, equipment various

In a corner of the gym is an area of free weights where men with big muscles tend to congregate. A lot of the time it is very sociable as a lot of them know each other and take turns at exercises, to both encourage and compete. I am always impressed with this, as I am when I come across any group of people who share an interest - always there is an exchange of information as people want to find out more, develop their practice, and pass on what they have learnt. It’s an informal, bottom-up model of development, where people egg each other on to do more but although there is no one with a badge saying ‘coach’.  Some people are listened to more than others but that’s just the way it as some people might know more or like talking more (not the same thing). However there is no hierarchy aside from a recognition of who is the strongest or best trainer

In the rest of the gym there are personal trainers, working with their clients: encouraging them, showing them how to use particular pieces of equipment. This is a different relationship where part of the motivation is outsourced and the trainer has to both decide on appropriate exercises and make sure the person does them.  Then there are friends (two or three) who come to the gym together and support each other. They might chat more, and  work less than the other two groups but they to keep themselves going, keep themselves coming back.

Then of course there is the group that includes me, people in a world of their own. We are probably in the majority. 

Although I am in my own world I like to look around at everyone else and try to work out what they are trying to achieve (apart from a generalised desire to get fitter) but it is difficult to tell what they are thinking. Most of them have glassy eyes and are looking inwards. I then try to work out if gyms are happy places or not.

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