Working Out to Stares and Whispers
I was being talked about last night in the gym. And not in the, “oh, look at him, he’s a big television star” kind of way that I’ve become accustomed to.
(Kidding, of course).
I was working my shoulders and triceps last night, lifting weights as usual at 8:30 on a Monday night. As I was switching from shoulder presses to dumbbell lateral raises, I felt a stare. A couple, actually, from some of the much larger guys that were lifting nearby. Sure enough, my feelings were correct as I looked over to them and one was laughing, the other talking, both looking directly at me.
I knew it was about me, as I was the only one nearby. I didn’t necessarily think it was bad, I thought they might have actually been talking to me until I took my headphones off and they looked away.
That’s when I knew I was being judged. Ridiculed. Criticized.
Whatever the discussion might have been, my guess is it had to do with the weights I was lifting. While I can lift some decent weight on a lot of exercises, I simply can’t do proper sets of lateral raises over 15 pounds. On the other hand, these guys were built and experienced, able to lift atrocious amounts of weight with relative ease.
I was below them. Beneath them. And most likely were taking pride in it.
With all that being said, it doesn’t bother me. Not one bit. It’s fuel to the fire, something I collect and carry with me to keep that internal fire raging. It’s not negative, but a positive. It’s something that two years ago would’ve depressed me and sent me home in tears, but not anymore. After the encounter I switched to the most defiant song I had (Jay-Z Run This Town), turned my iPod up all the way, and kept lifting.
So, if it doesn’t bother me, why bring it up?
Because I know other people feel the same stares and hear the whispers in the gym. People talk to me about it a lot — they’re afraid of joining a gym because they’re so overweight and are afraid of the criticism. They don’t want to be made fun of. It’s a fear I once had. I surely felt those stares, whether they were actually there or not, in my very first gym some 17 months ago. I did last night, too.
But there’s only one thing you can do: shut them up. Keep working out. Lose that 20/60/120 pounds and prove them wrong. Don’t take criticism personally, because they don’t know you. The fact is that there will always be people in this world that think they’re better than you when they don’t even really know you. Not just in the gym either as I’m sure you know, but in all walks of life.
You can sit and pout about it. You can take your ball and go home. You can call a meeting and talk about your problems. You can quit.
Or, you can shut them up. I choose to shut them up.