Where Everybody Knows Your Name

TAGS: coping mechanism, stress release, Managing Stress, training environment, Just Sayin', Skip Hill, bodybuilding, under the bar, strength training

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I do some of my best thinking while driving or shitting; I’m a guy.  On my way to the gym the other day I passed a bar that I pass every single day I go to the gym, and it being a Tuesday I wondered to myself what kind of a person is it that goes to the bar every day after work? In my forty-six years on this earth I have never once gone to the bar after work, but people do it all the time. Don’t they have better things to do? Don’t they want to go home from work and be with their family? It was a fleeting thought (or was it?) so I just kept driving to the gym.

As I walked into the gym I was greeted with the  typical, “What’s up Skip? Good to see you!” Oddly, the front desk guy was wiping down the counter as he said this to me, but I gave it no thought.


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Walking back to the locker room I passed several people that acknowledged me with a nod or a comment and I did the same. The gym is a place where you get to know a lot of the regulars and it becomes a bit of a community. Yeah, some people like to train and not talk because they are too hardcore for the rest of us, but most people build some sort of relationship with at least a few people they see all of the time or feel they have something in common with. For this reason, people tend to train at the same gym consistently, likely because of the community, familiarity, and usually being along their route on the way home from work.

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I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself for a minute: I get far more out of the gym than just being in great shape or being big and strong. It may have started that way years ago and may have been one of my main motivations, but over the years I have figured out that there are many more reasons why the gym has remained such a constant and a place of respite for me. I have found that whether everything is rolling in my favor or the world is kicking the shit out of me, my stresses are almost always left at the door. I have had tough times financially in the last thirty-two years, but this ends up forgotten while I am in the gym. I have had legal problems from dumb shit years ago; struggled with my girlfriend (before I was married, of course, in case my wife is reading this); a shitty job; or wondered what I was going to do with my life. No matter what it is or was, it was left at the door — not even because I consciously left it at the door, but it just somehow got left at the door.

I have referred to the gym for many years as my therapy time. Aside from the obvious outward results of working out, my psyche gets “trained” at this time, as well, and that is, if not equally as important, possibly even more important. I de-stress and I am able to leave the gym with a level of calm and a feeling that things aren’t as bad as I may have thought two hours ago. I guess you could even say that the gym has become a way to cope—or a sort of coping mechanism—for all things life. Some days that I don’t train I get uptight, anxious, and feel a bit stressed.


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On this night, I leave the gym after a great workout and touching base with some of the regulars, and I pass that bar again. I shake my head and give a little condescending smile as I drive by. Those people in that bar, they probably go there three or four times a week when they could be at home with their family. They must have a shitty marriage or hate their kids. I mean, how selfish can they be to take that time for themselves? Kind of narcissistic if you ask me.

Or maybe I’m that guy sitting in the bar.

Maybe having a couple drinks after work allows others to de-stress and cope with their lives better. Maybe the gym is our bar and without consciously being aware of it, we do it to escape life. It can be an escape from stresses, decisions and things that are out of our control. Training allows us total control while in the gym and no matter how bad our day-to-day life may be in the area of our job, our marriage or relationships, and no matter how bad our financial position may be, the gym is the gym — it holds none of life’s stresses or judgements.

Maybe drinking a couple beers would be easier on my knees and back, too. Hmmm…

Just Sayin’.

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