One of my regular stops during the week is the weight room at my local gym. The weight room is a place where I tap into true optimism about humanity. The best days of the week are usually the ones in which I start out early with my new strength- training workout, which I learned from the boys’ athletic trainer at our local high school. Partly, I am inspired by the ways in which, after just a few weeks, I can track my own progress and witness myself getting stronger in yoga, as well as daily activities like lifting two boxes at a time instead of one. But what is even more inspiring in the early morning hours at the gym is watching the wide range of other gym members, each of whom are leading themselves through challenging routines of weight lifting and arduous core workouts.
The people at the gym cut across a wide range of the population. Men and women of all ages are down in the weight room balancing on half balls and lifting small weights across the room. Young men grunt under the weight of huge dumbbells. Everyone is focused and motivated by their work. There is little conversation; everyone is deep into their own rhythm. The weight room self selects out the complainers and the ones who are waiting for life to give them something. You have to have a work ethic just to walk in the place.
Even on the days when I drag my feet through the door, I am inspired by the motivation of the people all around me. Women much older than me, next to women much younger than me, all in the midst of a plan for their own good. It feels almost like an electric current you can tap into, this motivation that makes you want to work harder, that makes you certain that you can grow stronger through effort. Tolerance for discomfort and even pain is a commodity that you can cultivate.
I wonder what it is about these people, about me, that is different from the millions of people who don’t exercise, who are uninterested in learning about their own strength. I just heard about some new phone apps to motivate you to go to the gym. I think, just get yourself to walk in the door and look around you. Having a routine that someone teaches you helps, too. Having some idea that you know what you are going to do helps you get started.
Just go and find a gym and start people-watching. Begin where you are. Go lift some weight in life. It will motivate you.