I see you there. The nameless faces that pick up heavy objects and subsequently put them back down. The tanned, headphone wearing, tank top rocking, chiseled human beings that are in a pursuit of ‘gains.’ The older men and women that come in and sometimes inadvertently take over machines or benches for a quick simple set. The cardio-centric group that run, walk, cycle and climb an infinite road to nowhere. I see you, and I love you all. The fact that you’ve made the decision to be more active and to work on yourself is amazing and I support you fully. You do you and keep getting those gains!
There’s a strange feeling I get now-a-days when I walk into my gym and stare out into the open metal jungle of weights, barbells, and machines. I look out in to the expanse and a giant grin overcomes my face. Matter of fact, a giant grin overcomes my face just thinking about it. I grin with a sense of joy that comes from being in an environment that challenges me physically and mentally with sweat and exhaustion. I look out and make a quick survey of the stations, benches and machines I’ll be needing for the day and start to plan the route of my workout. Squat racks taken? Guess I’ll start with shoulders and hope they become open when I need them. Benches taken? I suppose I’ll start with some cardio. Either way, I get it done and feel great afterwards.
There’s a strange phenomenon that I realized recently and it involves the people that also frequent my gym. I typically go at the same time almost everyday and I’ll see some of the same people there at the same time. I’ve been going to this gym at least 4-6 days a week for about a year and a half now, so you can imagine seeing some of the same people during this time. I typically will have my headphone on and I started wearing a hat, (for sweat and also to give myself tunnel vision during my sets) so I typically just go about my business and don’t talk to anybody. I do notice people though. I recognize some of the men and women that are there on a daily basis and realized that if I recognize them, they sure as hell must recognize me. That guy I refer to as ‘Bautista’ probably sees me as ‘that taller Asian guy’ or possibly that woman that’s working on competing in a physique competition sees me as ‘that Asian guy with the red hat and red shoes.’ Either way, these nameless faces that I pass regularly, probably recognize that I am there as frequently as they are. Sometimes I’ll meet eyes with some of them and give a quick smile and a head nod in an acknowledgement of each other existence. This simple gesture is becoming more of a sign of respect; one that eventually gets upgraded to a fist bump. I’m a sucker for social interactions and the rational and reasoning behind certain gestures, especially ones that don’t involve any words spoken. You can infer a lot from a small gesture. I sometimes wonder if they remember me when I first started coming to their gym(they were there first, I was an intruder). I wonder if they remember me back then and see my progress now. I wonder because I know I’ve noticed that with some people that I’ve seen from the beginning of their fitness journey. You go hunched over dude, I see you’ve lost a lot of weight and you’re just killin’ it.
I’m writing this letter to you all because I will be leaving soon, and I will miss you all. Finding a new gym won’t be easy. I will be infiltrating someone else’s metal jungle and have to start this nameless, non-spoken relationship with new men and woman. I know there are people that I wonder about, that I’ve seen at the gym but no longer see. I wonder if their schedules have changed so they only come at night or if they’ve moved away to another place. Hopefully they didn’t give up on their fitness journey. My gym family, you will always be in my heart as my first gym family. The strange aunts, uncles, cousins, and bros that I never knew but had a mutual understanding of our shared commitment to ourselves. One of my regrets will always be that I do not know any of you. That we went this long seeing each other on a daily basis for months and have never once spoken a word to each other nor do we know each other’s names. I guess this is the nature of the metal jungle. You never know who’s going to survive take part in the kingdom or who’s going to get scared off.
I wish you all the best sets and the most gains and the greatest PRs. Thank you for the silent support through the years.