I’d be lying to you if I told you this topic didn’t hit me right in the feels. My wife and I managed/owned and operated a big box gym for 7+ years. In that time, we were able to touch and help change the lives of thousands of people. But, with those large numbers come challenges. We dealt with parts of the population, albeit small, that liked to put others down in the gym and walk around with a superiority complex (and also invisible lat syndrome – men & women). As much as you work to change the culture of a business, especially when you take over an existing business) can be extremely tough. What I could never wrap my head around was the fact that some thought it was “okay” or “normal” to laugh at others trying to better themselves. Of course if these things happened while I was there they were taken care of, but, I’m not superman and can’t be there 24 hours a day you know?
I say all of that to make this point:
If someone is at the gym and putting in the work (not the twitter finger crew), then it doesn’t matter what shape, size, color or age they are.
The big girl on the elliptical? She may have stepped in the gym today after crying in her car because she thought she would be judged. The jacked girl on the bike? She might be recovering from an eating disorder. The big guy on the treadmill? He may be coming out of a bout of depression that led to him gaining the weight.
You and I have no idea what someone has been through. We don’t know what it took for them to even set foot in the gym. We just need to all have it in our heads that if they are there, they are working to find a better version of themselves. If someone is working to better themselves, they are a badass no matter what size or shape they are in my book. Deciding to change is obviously the most important piece to the puzzle. But, many of my conversations with new members and athletes I coach lead to them telling me that setting foot in the gym was one of the hardest things they have ever done. They are intimidated. Fear they don’t know what they’re doing. Worried about what they’re wearing. Think someone will judge them. To live in fear like that is crazy! What’s worse, though, is that often times their fears are validated by an insecure waste of space. Those who validate the fears of many new and potential gym goers are nothing more than bullies.
The gym should be a place that brings people together, a place where all are accepted. Big, small, black, white, jacked, tan – whatever. Let’s make a conscious effort to make everyone we see in the gym feel comfortable. A smile costs you nothing. Saying “how are you?” wont ruin your focus so you lose out on your BroGainz. I’m not telling you to become a Chatty Kathy and talk to everyone you see for 5+ minutes. All I’m saying is that being a decent human costs zero dollars. Literally zero. What’s even better is that you being nice may have a bigger impact on someone than any gym membership they could ever buy. You could be the boost they need to keep coming back. The confidence they need to say “I can do this”.
To me, the opportunity to even be able to change someone’s life in a positive way makes my heart happy. Bare minimum all it costs you is a smile or a “how are ya”, which again, is free. I want everyone to change their lives for the better. Be the person that helps guide them to stay on that path, not the one who helps them have an excuse to quit.
The fact of the matter is this; we all battle preconceived notions of every person we see. We all subconsciously think negative things about someone we don’t know from time to time. And although I encourage you to work on those thoughts and try to minimize them, we are all in absolute control of what gets put out there for everyone to see.
Thoughts? They happen. Whatever. Work to get out of the negative train of thought.
Actions? You control them. You can change that today. It’s not hard, and you know what? If you’re having a bad day, making someone else’s can turn your own around.
Together we can make a difference. A big one.