This column appeared originally in the Herald-Independent on January 14, 2016.
A recent article said some people turn to CrossFit gyms the way others seek out church because of the supportive community.
I found that amusing, because, for me, the presence of other people at the gym is the worst part about going to the gym.
My greatest achievements at the gym aren’t those times I managed to jog on the treadmill for 30 minutes straight without stopping (or dying). They are the two times in five years I managed to have the entire gym all to myself. One of these was during a snowstorm a few years ago. The other time was at 10 a.m. this past Mother’s Day.
The next best thing to an empty gym is when I get a treadmill that has an empty treadmill on either side of me, creating the illusion of privacy. Unfortunately I’m not always so lucky.
The way I endure treadmill claustrophobia is to occasionally glance at my neighbor’s treadmill screen and see their stats. What are those new large treadmill screens for if not for snooping? It’s a lot more interesting than looking at my own stats and makes the time go faster.
Speaking of church, it’s a good thing there isn’t a “Don’t covet thy neighbor’s stats” commandment at my gym, because my neighbor’s speed is usually 10 mph or more, whereas I’m barely galumphing along. They aren’t hanging on to the treadmill handles for dear life like me, so I often don’t get to see their pulse, but when I do, it’s usually only 120. A peek at their timer shows they have been on the treadmill for at least 30 minutes without any signs of fatigue. To ward off despair, I mentally review my justifications about my poor running performance, and before I know it, my workout is over.
Things get trickier when I step off the treadmill and venture over to the section with the kettlebells and weights. In this area, it’s harder to have privacy. Occasionally, someone will even smile at me, which always makes me wonder what exercise I did that looked foolish.
We almost never talk to each other, yet these are people that see me at my worst, contorting and exerting, and wearing attire I wouldn’t wear in public. A few times, I’ve noticed after leaving that my yoga pants were inside out the entire time, and no one laughed at me or said anything. On second thought, if this is what community is, I’ll take it.