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Competing with Myself

I would never presume to be an expert on anything related to the gym or working out. Despite my decades long on-again, off-again relationship with the gym, I still feel like a novice when I walk in. But there is one area, however, which I feel that I’ve mastered: gym etiquette.

Now, a lot of people don’t know this, but there is an art to interpersonal gym relationships. One must always be aware of the potential thought processes and emotions of others when attempting to interact in this environment. You see, only a few people are at their best when they go to the gym. Only a small portion of the world population is excited to wake up early in the morning and head off to the gym where they can rep and squat to their hearts content.

I am not one of those people. I am of the much larger (pun not intended) portion of the population that would rather be anywhere else but on an elliptical machine (preferably lying down or eating a pastry, or a combination of the two). Therefore, out of respect for people like me an unwritten code of conduct has been established.

There is no rule more important than what I like to refer to as the work out proximity rule: When exercising on gym equipment (e.g. a treadmill), there must always be an empty machine between each person, when available. Unless absolutely unavoidable, NEVER use a machine directly beside someone else.

This morning, I was victim to an egregious violation of this rule. A lady with a red shirt, heretofore referred to as the Perpetrator, climbed onto the treadmill right next to mine, despite the fact that there was a sea of more appropriate treadmills from which to choose!

She didn’t seem to notice the daggers in my eyes as she began her workout. I continued mine, all the while lamenting that there was no special police force to which to report this infraction.

Perhaps her offense would have been forgiven more quickly had I not immediately discovered that she was a much faster runner than I. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I increased my speed to match hers.

This was not a great idea. I ended up having to cut my workout short and have spent the rest of my day nursing painful muscles.

This incident reminded me that when I compare myself with others it leads to pain and potential set backs in the goals that I set for myself. I would not be in so much pain if I had focused on the task at hand rather than “winning” at this imaginary competition. Because, after all, there is no greater challenge than competing against myself!

“Let everyone be sure that he is doing his very best, for then he will have the personal satisfaction of work well done and won’t need to compare himself with someone else (Galatians 6:4, (TLB).

Jael Amador writes from New York, New York.

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About Jael Amador

Jael Amador

writes from New York, New York.

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