People At My Gym

I believe that everyone has a compelling life story and these stories deserve to be told and heard. Each of us feels that our story matters and, in my opinion, our stories are what connect us as human beings to one another, to the collective human condition, and to the a universe as a whole.

This is never been more apparent to me than in the various people I have met at my local $10 a month gym. I have created some amazing friendships through conversations I’ve struck up with people who I otherwise wouldn’t have met.

There’s the 72-year-old now sober Vietnam veteran whom suffers from Parkinson’s Disease, an affliction he thinks was brought on by exposure to the chemical Agent Orange. There’s the recovering alcoholic who now has 25 years sober but never misses a morning meeting. The young Hispanic woman who is starting her own cake baking business and teaching herself English at the same time to attract more clients. The older woman who has survived three bouts of breast cancer, gone through multiple chemotherapy and radiation treatment yet still manages to work out on a regular basis.  The young man who started out morbidly obese and gradually has shed over half his initial body weight. It’s amazing to see his smile emerge as his body shrinks. But what I most admire most about him is that that even at his heaviest, he still got himself to the gym every day. It wasn’t easy but he persisted and the results are amazing!  

There are the various au pairs (foreign born nannies) that come from parts of Europe to take care of families and children in the local area. These are young, 20-something women whom manage to find each other and create their own home away from their native countries.  I love the variety of languages I hear spoken on any given day.

There is something so familiar and comforting about seeing the same people day in and day out, the people that are on the same work-out schedule as me. Friendly faces that worry when they haven’t seen you in a few days, wondering if maybe something has happened —if you’re sick or injured. 

Because while it’s possible to contact people anywhere at any time, ironically, it’s often more difficult to truly connect with them. That’s because we need to regularly spend time with people face-to-face and in person  to build meaningful relationships. In this day of social media, we have “friends“ that we make on Facebook and look to get “likes“ on Instagram. But there’s no substitution for face-to-face connection with others. We are tribal beings and having human interaction matter. Community can be found in so many wonderful places — even the local gym that only costs $10 a month!