In my last blog (BREATHING) I may have presented myself one-sided, all love and light. Let's flip that coin for a minute and expose an important part of my journey. The gym has always been a spiritual space, absolutely it has. It also doubles as a playground for my ego, the spot where I let my judging diva come out. She cheers for most people but not the ones who huddle in groups and flex, or the ones who hog all of her weights or the dudes who offer unsolicited advice to women. My diva does not approve.
Last year I shared a few of my rants with my mentor expecting her to join in on the gym judging, instead she gave me a gift, she suggested I use a more charitable mindset in the gym. Of course I felt like a huge asshole. She was right though, in order to be the kind of coach I want to be, I cant fake empathy, it has to be genuine. I couldn't be kind to a client and a giant asshole in the gym, thats disingenuous. Maybe I wasn't a total asshole, I never had a problem cheering for who I perceived to be the underdog, the person who seemed to be just getting started, a human in a bigger body or an older human. I cheered and clapped for all that fabulosity. What was my damn problem then?
Time to find out.
The next day I was looking around in between sets, attempting to use new eyes. But since so many people were doing things I didnt approve of these new eyes didnt seem to work yet. Why was the guy lifting up his shirt and ab checking in between each set right in my line of vision? I knew this charitable mindset in the gym crap was not going to be easy for me. I wrote the word charitable in my journal everyday so I would be reminded. After a few weeks of doing this I learned that it was my own ego that was the problem, SHIT! My diva was sizing folks up. She seemed to focus on the humans who she perceived to have inflated egos. There is a popular saying "if you spot it you got it" well , I guess I had it, EGO. I could do one of two things deny or grow. I attempted the later.
I tried to view each person I was judging with my new more charitable eyes. Maybe the dude I was judging was picked on in school for his appearance and that was why he was trying to grow. Maybe another human was trying to find the strength to leave a relationship or a bad job while another was perhaps trying to find some sense of peace. I remember being in all of those spaces at different points in my training. I remember trying to build up muscles to scare people and keep them away, I remember lifting to hide, to find strength, to find my voice. Gyms healed me in many ways and perhaps these people were healing too. Maybe I should be cheering them on just like I cheered for the people who I perceived to be the underdogs. Wasnt everyone in there trying to get better, get healthier, find some confidence?
In this process I realized why gyms felt so unsafe for so many. Everyone's ego is on the playground and vulnerabilities are exposed to some degree. Just because I may have perceived people to be in love with themselves does'nt mean they were. Perhaps to some degree others were in there for the same reason I was, just trying to get better and grow as a person. I often feel insecure and inferior and now I wondered how many of these folks in the gym felt like I did.
Ego clouds our perception of others and then that perception becomes our reality. Recently, I wore a t-shirt to the gym that said "protect trans kids" now, while I wear shirts like this in my everyday life all the time, I didn't wear the gym, I wanted to blend, I didn't want people to know me or judge me. One day my own hesitancy offended me so I had no choice but to wear this shirt. Toward the end of my workout this person, whom I perceived to have a very impressive resting bitch face, motioned for me to take off my headphones so that she could tell me how much she loved my t shirt. I took major notice. I had her pegged as a bitch, what was that about? Maybe she was just focused or maybe just enjoying her training I know I rock one hell of a resting bitch face but I couldn't feel better than when I am training.
My charitable mindset training was changing me. I recognized that I slowly stopped having to write the word "charitable" in my journal. I started to change my mindset and started to find more peace. My training got sharper, there were less distractions. I became less of in asshole in life too.
How can I profess that I want to help people get healthy if I am gym judging. Who am I to say who deserves to be there? How is that fostering an inclusive and safe environment for all? Through looking at myself and exploring my own bias I could actually affect the environment around me and make it more inclusive and accepting for everyone. I could be one less asshole.
I am happy to report that after many months of using my charitable eyes in the gym, they are actually working quite well.
Hi I am Jess, I am a recovering gym judger.