I want to share a few things that stick out in my mind from recent workouts - hopefully these will give you some idea why I am so very satisfied with my time at the gym.
Today, toward the end of my workout 3 young men came up and wanted to chat. They started out saying they were amazed by the variety of things my group does, and were curious where we got our routines. And then one of them said “You guys are the only people in this gym who always seem to be having fun”.
Think about it, a guy pushing 60 having fun working out with a bunch of kids in their late teens and 20's. Oh, plus a 53 year old, and several ladies, ranging from mid 20's to mid 60's.
Then, last week, I had to leave early (5 pm, only a 3 hour work out that day), but Maia, a lovely lady in her 60's had just shown up and wanted to work on pushups with her hands or her feet on an exercise ball. Matt (19 years old) jumped right in. Now picture this - a 19 year old spending time helping a 60's year old on pushups???!!!
Another time - I had noticed a guy watching us periodically - he finally got brave enough to come try our routines for a bit. He asked me, after a couple of days - “Why do you do this - what’s in it for you?” He seemed to find it hard to believe that I do what I do because I love working out.
Today, just finished doing pull-ups and chin-ups with a 30 or 40 pound dumb-bell between our feet. Oh, when going up we also lift our knees to our chests. Great exercises those. But, turn around and one of the young guys is already hoofing the weights back to the rack, across the gym. So very considerate.
When we work out we focus on making everyone feel a part of the group - part of this is the way we fist bump each other after every set. Part of it is the way we give positive reinforcement as we each do something tough. Part of it is the way we count for each other, and make appropriate comments as we get near the end of a set to spur each other on. Part of it is understanding that it is inappropriate to make comments like “I can do it, I can’t believe you can’t”. Funny how little bits of guidance can keep people very positive, and those positive vibes just build and build.
Don’t get me wrong - there are folk that don’t really fit in - that don’t get it. One guy, wanted to drop weights after doing one-arm presses - too heavy for him to set down carefully. And he wanted one of us to hand him the weights at the beginning of each set. I tried to gently explain that we don’t drop weights - if we can’t handle the weight we don’t use it - we go lighter - we focus on form over big weights.
Safety was more important than keeping up with some one else. He was trying to match the weight a couple of us were using but was clearly not quite up to it. He didn't come back.
Which is ok - he really was not adding something positive to the group. Callous - not really. One time one of the old guys who watch us work out commented that, since I was heading up the group it was my responsibility to make sure that the people in my group kept safe and were courteous. I thought about it, and realized that, for the good of the group, he might actually be right.
I have spent a bit of time working with a 70 plus gentleman with some balance issues and a lot of joint pain. I have guided him in doing some steps from one BOSU ball to another while holding onto a rail. And, I go through a 25 minute stretch routine with him 3 or 4 times a week. Today he told me his joint pain is gone - as in the pain that was making it very hard for him to walk normally is gone. OK, still has the balance issues, but he is walking better. Know how good this made me feel? Do you have any idea???
Is what we do for everyone? No, not really. We don’t focus on building muscle - we focus on building a balanced body. We don’t lift weights that are as heavy as we possibly can handle. Instead we make the lifts more challenging because we intentionally lift in unbalanced poses - forcing ourselves to develop more control, balance and core strength.
And, each day, I have someone who wants to work out with me - who is making progress, and who appreciates what I am doing.
And this makes me happy. Five days a week.