Us gym-goers get a lot of stick for being ‘vain’, ‘superficial’, ‘self-obsessed’, as having no life, being sad and too restrictive. But I for one was never one to pay attention to the opinion of others because they aren’t me and they don’t live in my head. The non-gym goers, the anti-exercise and clean-eating police don’t know our motives, they are nothing like us. You see we push the heavy weights, we drink the protein shakes, we avoid the dirty Saturday nights on the town because we are busy building ourselves rather than tearing ourselves down. We create positivity internally and externally. That is why we are worlds apart.
You look at the muscly female in your town and I hear you scream ‘manly’, ‘disgusting’, ‘obsessed’ and all the usual shit. But when I look, as a fellow gym junkie I see dedication, I see determination, a woman or man bettering his or her self, building themselves, applying oneself to a healthy cause. I see the sacrifice it takes and I see the long and lengthy process. I don’t just see the body that results from the hard work put into their sport, which is merely a reward that you wouldn’t understand. You see us fit people support each other, we appreciate that we become the body-builder, the bikini model, the sprinter, the cross fitter, the boxer, the Olympian for reasons more than meets the eye, somethings you can’t comprehend or relate to unless you’ve been there.
Saturday nights on the town screaming your favourite lyrics at the top of your voice while downing a jagerbomb is swapped for foam rolling banter and working on our goals. You see the work never stops, when the gym closes we don’t go home and forget about it. You guys who aren’t obsessed with goals and dreams have it easy, you leave work and that’s it for the weekend, you go and enjoy life. The athletes work never endings, day and night they grind, the hours of training, the food prep, the session planning is just the beginning, then comes the hard part, you know the self-criticism, the critiquing on what’s gone, old fights, last stage progress, sprint recorders, then there’s the fighting the doubting and let’s not forget the constant defending of your choices to people who just don’t understand.
Although, I for one couldn’t care less if you understand or if you condemn because you are not me and you are not my goals so therefore you are irrelevant, I learned a long time ago to block out the haters. But for the record we love cookies, partying and being lazy just as much as ye but our goals are bigger than our fears. You see that girl you judge and pass comment on, you ever wonder if you’re her motivation? Your comments spur her on? Yup, often they do, she wants to make sure you eat your words and believe me you will, so tell your green-eyed monster take a seat. And that guy you call obsessed and vain? He doesn’t even know you exist because once again we are worlds apart; we are the alpha species waiting for you to catch up.
Now, I hear you ask why, why are we so different? Why do we do this? Why always battling? Let me tell you fitness isn’t always about the exterior but often the interior. I don’t just want to be hard and indestructible on the outside, I want to be unbreakable inside. Mentally I want to know I can handle all the hate and more, I go to the gym as therapy, and I work on me for me. I find my happy and I grow it each and every time, I do that alone, I have no need to travel in a pack for security, us fit people understand that this is us alone, his workout won’t give me results. I train my problems away- worries? I can out run them, words? Out lift them one handed. Haters? One punch.
Sometimes it even goes a little deeper. That person who told you five years ago that you couldn’t, that boy who laughed when you failed, that bully you couldn’t fight back, the shit relationship- we do it for that. We do it to prove to ourselves we are all we dreamed we could be. I do it for the little girl I promised years ago, I’ve done it over and over for all the people who said I couldn’t. You see we feed off hate; too much praise would leave your head in the clouds. We are stronger than you average person.
The gym, the track, the ring, the bar, the spikes, the cage, the weights- all symbols of happy. Give me my gloves, put that bar on my shoulders, let me pound the track, make me press- only then you will see how happy I am, only then will you see who I am. Sport is in our bones, this is who we are, and that never changes. You can't wake up one morning and not be an athlete, you can’t run from this, regret will eat you alive, you can’t wake up and take it all back because this is who you are, this is what makes you tick, this is your happiness and this is your power. You are an athlete, you are a sports person, you are a winner, a champion, a believer, a doer, and you are not your ordinary mediocre everyday person. You are worlds apart.