Funny Secrets the Gym Uncovered About My Life

I’ve been going to the gym.

There, I said it once and never again. I’m not trying to be your inspiration, or anybody else’s. I’m just looking to find enough for myself! I don’t have a great plan and I’m not always consistent in my eating. But going to the gym has helped me understand some stuff about life I wouldn’t have learned any other way. And none of it has to do with personal fitness, in particular.

You should wipe stuff down. 

In life I’ve gone back and forth on being a germaphobe. I would freak out whenever someone double dipped their carrot in the ranch, because I would obsess over the thought of their saliva entering my mouth indirectly. Then I became a lazy teenager and stopped caring about hygiene. Now I’m somewhere in the middle of two disgusting extremes.

I spend a lot of my thinking obsessing over how to “leave a mark” on society. The opposite of this is true at the gym. If you leave a mark on the equipment you’re gross and everyone knows it. You can’t just spray your body down with the disinfectant and ignore cleaning up after yourself, either. Then people think the bottle is somehow unclean, too. 

Really, do you want to be the guy who made the exercise ball wet? I didn’t think so. Try to make it seem like you were never there. 

This includes staying away from selfies and status updates that remind everyone of your gym routine–unless, of course, you have set a course which makes your personal fitness an inspiration to others. If you have a platform to encourage healthy choices in others because you’ve made a physical transformation or you’re a personal trainer or something, then snap away! If, on the other hand, you let other people know you’re going to the gym for your  own sake, it’s the same as a sweat stain on the seat.

Recycle. Make the public washroom stall cleaner when you leave than before you entered. Clean up after yourself. Do the dishes after you eat. Set a countdown timer and do a quick tidy. 

And after you sweat it out, shower. (This advice is especially true for my junior high school audience.) 

Insecurity means you aren’t focused on the right thing.

Look, I’m no prude. But the whole change room thing can be intimidating. I was homeschooled so this wasn’t something I had to settle in my junior high years. Now I’m a grown man who’s uncomfortable with changing around old naked people in the locker room.

I was afraid I wouldn’t do anything right, so I obsessed over meaningless details. I’d spend half the time messing with the seat height and I’d never do the exercise the same way twice. After an hour of water breaks and equipment adjustments, I realized I hadn’t done very much at all. 

But once I started pushing myself, I was too preoccupied with the right thing to be distracted with the nonessentials. Obviously proper form is important, but it’s not impossible to achieve. Once you’re in the middle of doing something right, you must focus. Otherwise your insecurities will broadcast so many inconsequential details you’ll never get anything finished. Pretty soon you’re standing in the corner of the gym messing with the music on your phone and looking straight creepy.

I’m still not comfortable with all the ugly public nudity at the gym. I wish some men wouldn’t use the hand driers in lieu of a regular towel. But I’m too busy and focused to pay attention to it. (Now I’m really helping you. You’re welcome.)

Process means growth is going to take a while.

If you want the gym to help your health and physique, you’re going to have to do the right thing the same way for a long time with little to show for it. You’re going to have to show up, give it your best, struggle in the middle of it, and then go home with small gains. You’re red in the face and you make weird grunts and you look like you’re pushing a child out of a new hole in your abdomen, and you’ve only increased the weight on the machine by 5 lbs. Welcome to the gym. Come back everyday for a year.

Perseverance is patience without visible accomplishment. In life, going through a process means you’ll apply yourself to something so fully, you’re willing to wait a long time before you see any growth. Most people who fail at their life goals, or just at their commitment to working out, are discouraged by their lack of progress. But what if you’ve progressed in your consistency alone? And what if your consistency and dedication are the foundation for your goals?

You will, inevitably, see results in anything you do with perseverance. Your disciplines grow in a marginal way because this is the kind of growth you can sustain-as the outside bark of the tree is compressed into another ring inside the tree, so too do your daily habits form your future. You just have to give up your addiction to daily success at the expense of embracing the process. Start learning Korean! Check out that book on magic you've been eyeing at the library and book your first show for a year from now.

Grunt and strain and pop a vein at whatever you know is worth the effort.

And stop checking yourself out in the mirror. You’ll see things time.