Be Well: Taking the Plunge

DSC_8820Today I want to fill you guys in on the "real" reason I haven't been going to the gym lately. In previous posts I've referenced a host of factors that have played into my inability to exercise in the morning - crazy hours at work, wanting to spend time with my husband, pure laziness, etc. But none of those has played as much of a part as the one thing I'm most afraid of:

The people.

I'm not talking about "the people" in a "the people who go to the gym are jerks" kind of way (see this previous post for my thoughts on when that IS the case). Here's what's going on with me lately. At night, when I think about going to the gym the next morning, I generally have really positive thoughts about how much I love to exercise and how great I feel after finishing a workout. And I want to go to bed early so I can go to the gym. But then I think about that moment, that moment after the coach is done explaining the workout and tells everyone to get in groups of two or three. That moment when I look around the room and realize that everyone else has someone else that they want to be in a group with and I don't. And then my chest tightens up and I convince myself that I'm too tired, too busy, too lazy to go.

But I'm not too tired, busy, or lazy. You see, Crossfit is a really social form of exercise. Most workouts are done in small groups - your partner rests while you lift, or they do pushups while you row, or they jump rope while you hold a plank until you're about to die. In general, I LOVE that aspect of Crossfit - I'm a pretty social person, so I enjoy spending that hour bonding with other people.

However, I don't have any close friends who go to the gym with me at the same time as me. And one thing I hate more than anything is being in a room of people I don't know. Just the thought of it gives me anxiety. I feel really embarrassed to admit that because I don't think I'm socially awkward or antisocial - I just don't always know how to strike up a conversation with others, especially at the gym. In most contexts, I am pretty good at making friends. At the gym I have no idea how to make friends.

I've been a member of various gyms over the course of my life thus far, and I have NEVER had gym friends. Do you know what I'm talking about? From what I can tell, the vast majority of gym regulars end up bonding with other gym regulars. They chat in the locker room or by the treadmills. The major thing they have in common is the fact that they go to the gym at the same time, and yet they still find enough to base a "say hello every day" friendship on.

This one summer, I sat next to the same woman every single morning while we were getting ready for work in the gym locker room. Every day we were at the gym at the same time, sitting at side-by-side mirrors. Most people would end up being friends with that woman in that situation. Not me. I spent ten weeks feeling like I should be friends with her, but never figuring out how.

So here I am, almost 25 years old and still worrying that I'm the last kid that's going to be picked for dodgeball. Given that fear, there are two ways to get myself to start working out again: I can go back to a regular gym where I'm not forced into workout groups, or I can face my fear. I like the Crossfit workouts, though, and I'm not ready to quit, so that leaves facing my fear. Which is the better choice anyway. I've committed to going to at least one Crossfit class this week and braving the team-picking part. Once again, I'm going to ask you guys to keep me honest. I'll keep you updated, of course.

Finally, a PSA for all of you who have no trouble making friends at the gym: the next time you see someone like me, someone who is nervously eying the crowd before picking Crossfit workout groups, or who doesn't know where to put her bike before cycling class, or who looks lonely when putting her makeup on in the locker room - please say hi. We want to talk, we just don't know how to do it. You have no idea how much your kindness will be appreciated.

Have a very wonderful Wednesday.