Owning Your Space in the Gym (and Life)
Stop thinking someone deserves it more than you
You have as much right to the equipment in the gym as anyone else.
Better, burn it into your soul.
Why? Because I suspect we all suffer a little (or a lot) from Oh You Deserve This More Syndrome (OYDTMS).
Do You Suffer From OYDTMS?
I know I do, even after all these years and all this work on myself.
Inside I am still a little girl in blonde pigtails, a little small for my age, with thick glasses and a big vocabulary, and I suspect that anyone might call me “Four Eyes” and physically take from my hands what they want and I have only my ferocious spirit to stop them.
This is both good and bad.
See, I’ve been trying my whole life to get back to that little girl. And the closer I get to being 7-year-old me, the happier I am.
But that freedom of spirit does not come without baggage and sometimes that baggage shows up on the gym floor — surprise!
When OYDTMS Strikes
For me, it’s usually when I’m about to shoulder the barbell and I see out of the corner of my eye, somebody (usually a guy) doing the “slow roll” where I know they’re not looking at me but at my squat rack, thinking “When is she going to be done? I want that rack.”
And somewhere, deep inside me, I shrink just a little, like maybe I don’t deserve this space. Maybe I’m a pretender. Maybe I’m a fraud. And I have to stop myself from thinking, “Oh, that person deserves this more. Let me finish up quickly and get out of their way.”
It’s not the fault of the slow roller. They’re just looking for a rack or a barbell or whatever. It’s really not anyone’s fault. Just a brain by-product of being a human. We grow up in a society and we have experiences and they leave memories. Like I’ve said before, no one gets through this life in an inviolate state.
Why Am I Telling You This?
I suspect that I’m not the only one who gets this feeling sometimes in the gym. Communal spaces are weird. We spend a lot of energy trying to navigate the social dynamics of them. (Look around any coffee shop or take-out counter. Awkwardness everywhere as people try to move around and get what they need. And triple that awkwardness in Covid times.)
So if you have been nodding your head a little bit as you read these words, know that you’re not alone.
But know this even more: you deserve your spot in the gym.
Because you showed up.
That’s it. That’s ALL it takes.
You showed up. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re an athlete.
It doesn’t matter what you lift or how long you’ve been lifting.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never exercised before.
It doesn’t matter if you can do a pull-up.
It doesn’t matter what you weigh.
Here are other things that don’t matter: age, height, pant size, workout gear, sneakers, etc.
What Matters in the Gym
All that matters is that you showed up and you’re trying to improve your health.
Just by walking through the door and making an effort, you are one of us.
You belong. You fit, I promise.
Use all the equipment you want to. Take the time you need. Just put your weights away when you’re done. Nobody likes a messy or dirty gym.
And then show up again.
I’ll see you at the squat rack.