Why To Exercise Today: To The Woman Who Was So Nasty At The Gym

This article is more than 8 years old.
Some nice U.S. Navy weight room camaraderie (Wikimedia Commons)
Some nice U.S. Navy weight room camaraderie (Wikimedia Commons)

Dear fellow gym member:

I'm trying hard not to let you ruin my morning. I'm telling myself you were surely stressed, irritable, hurried.

Still, it was simply shocking to get your blast of negativity during my workout — and over what? That I somehow wasn't using the weight machines in the right order — as if there is an order? Finally, hurt and nonplussed, I said, "You know, we're all just here fighting the good fight..."

What I should have added was, "...and when you're nasty at the gym, you're violating a social contract that the rest of us understand. It's worse than just being nasty on the street or in a line. The people here really are engaged in a fight to do the right thing, to work out despite fatigue or depression or indolence. When you spew your ugliness onto your fellow soldiers instead of offering support, you're helping the wrong side."

"You're upsetting a delicate balance; if you turn the gym into a more negative experience for me, beyond the healthy discomfort of stressing my body, you make me that much less likely to come tomorrow. You're striking a blow for the sedentary lifestyle and chronic disease. Is that the side you want to be on?"

The thought of reporting you to the gym managers crossed my mind — but what would I say? "Just FYI, this woman could be bad for morale."

But I've decided instead to focus on the positive: the fact that your behavior was so shocking because the vast, vast majority of my time at the gym is so positive and uplifting: powerful music, honest sweat, friends who praise each other, creative inspirations that tend to hit only during or after strenuous work. The list goes on and on.

If I were a bigger person, I'd wish you all of those things. But at the moment, I'm just wishing you a newfound passion for marathon running — or any other sport that requires you to train outside.

Readers, has something like this happened to you? How did you respond? 

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.




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