The gym is a sacred place. It is your sanctuary, your Fortress of Solitude; it’s your place to go to get inside of your own head and actively pursue your dreams, goals, and aspirations. It is the place to put forward into motion the components of your plan that will successfully bring your mission and your vision for yourself to fruition. The gym is the place where your relationship with the weights is tested and retested, where you are sometimes the victor, and where sometimes the weights conquer you. It is the place where you, and you alone, can create out of the figurative clay what you want to achieve with regard to strength, power, and muscle.
Each and every day of your life is comprised of no more than 24 hours. But of those 24 hours, the majority of what seem like your hours are actually dictated by someone or something other than yourself. Those hours are controlled by your job, your boss, and your responsibilities, obligations, and duties. Those hours are filled by the needs and requirements of your family and friends. Those hours are divided up by things that require your time, attention, and presence. Some hours are filled by the exigent, and some hours are taken up by the mundane.
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A constant in the universe is that time will have its way with us; time is always fleeting, whether we are consciously aware of that or not. Within those 24 fleeting hours, there are those precious couple of hours in the gym that are as life-sustaining as the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the water you drink. These are hours that you – and you alone – own. These are the couple of sacred hours that are totally at your disposal, that you can use for whatever goal you are striving towards, be it a competition, a PR, breaking a record, or coming back from injury or from time away from the gym after a lifting hiatus. These are the hours that you fiercely protect. You know how it goes, as you have said these things a hundred times before: “Nope, sorry, that is when I train...I wish I could, but I squat on Saturday...I would love to but I need to be in early that night as I train in the morning...Maybe some other time as I have max effort deadlift tomorrow.”
There are two worlds in which we all reside. There is the “gym world”, the land of weights, chalk, barbells, and ammonia; a world where everything pertains to the gym and your training, where your goals and aspirations for the platform are created, pursued, and lived out. The other world is the outside world, which is comprised of everything else. The outside world can be marred with distraction; it can be full of problems and issues, political strife and conflict, and a clashing of views. It’s the constant thrust and parry that one can about read in the morning paper, see in your hands as you scroll throughout the day, and watch on the news every night on your screen or TV. That outside world is a world that should never breach your gym world.
There is plenty of time and opportunity for the outside world to permeate your day when you are not in the gym – and as you are well aware, it always does. Discussions about politics are heard by the water cooler or coffee maker. This person is a Democrat, that person is a Republican, this person's views are to the left, that person's views are right – and so on and so forth. As you don’t own this outside world, these conversations are all around you. You can engage or not, but you pretty much have come to realize that in public settings, the political soundtrack constantly plays in the background non-stop, the same being true on your social media feed as you flip through it during a break in your day.
Where this outside world and political talk ends is at the front door of the hard-core gym – and that is gospel, truth, fact, bottom line and end of story. There is no room for it, and there is surely no time for talk about who is right or left, or wrong or right in a serious gym. For those who think otherwise, I would submit that they need to get right back into their vehicle and go find a corporate gym with the other folks who are either there to pick up somebody, debate politics, or sweat off a few pounds to better fit into their skinny jeans.
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The few remaining hard-core gyms are sacred ground – that holiest of land is for training. For those bound and determined to talk about the political landscape while training, to them I extend a warm and friendly offer to back away from my training session. Or better yet, they can take that conversation and save it for the barber shop, where talking heads can pontificate and chat politics while wasting away the hours of a Saturday afternoon.
These are times of political jousting – no doubt. But keep your armchair, political quarterbacking out of the gym, as no serious lifter wants to hear your views, be they like-minded or different. People are going to believe what they believe, and I have yet to see a hotly-contested debate end with one party responding, “Wow, you know, for 15 years I have voted for political party X, but after hearing your well-rounded and convincing political diatribe, I will be in the future, voting for political party Y. Thank you so much for helping me see the light.”
The point is, if someone is poisoning your training by bringing the outside world into the training world, either show them the door or show them your back, as these are your couple of hours. By the same token, if you are the type of person that is sharing your political views in a hard-core gym full of serious lifters who are in the throes of meet prep, know that they want you to stow it – and do so expeditiously.
Keep this final thought in mind: In every single gym in every single town, there is always that one lifter that the other lifters can hardly tolerate. If you are the lifter who talks politics in this sanctuary of weights, chalk, ammonia, and barbells, then take a good, hard look in the mirror – that one lifter is you.
Header image credit: Prathan Chorruangsak © 123rf.com