For some, going to the gym is a social hour. For me, the moment I put my headphones on, I am in the zone. I don’t mind exchanging a few words here and there but I can’t seem to get on the same level as the people that want to chat for 20 minutes. Half the time I want to sarcastically suggest that we skip out of there and grab a coffee so I can hear their life story instead of doing what I came to do. But I bite my tongue.
There is one person in particular that I think of in this case. He is a very sweet old man, but he will talk your ear off. It doesn’t matter if you are literally mid-lift with your music blasting, it’s story time.
I am sitting on a bench in between sets of chest presses when I see the culprit on the other side of the gym in the reflection of the mirror. I watch him spot me and I quickly avert my eyes in hopes of him realizing I was in the middle of something. But it is to no avail. He has found me and is rapidly making his way to the weight room, waving his arms frantically.
I lay back down on my bench and begin my next set.
Imagine this: I am laying on my back – about four lifts in, easing into my fifth – and he bends over my bench, hovering over my face with the biggest grin. I see his mouth moving quickly but can’t make out what he is saying because I have my headphones on (headphones: first sign that someone doesn’t want to talk). I squint my eyes in fear of sweat dripping onto my face, and remove just one ear bud.
He is firing off questions in a thick German accent…
Chatter: “Katie! Katie! It’s me! How AREEEE you? Were you here yesterday? How long have you been here today? Can you smell garlic on my breath?”
(yes, he has asked me that multiple times)…
Me: “Hi there. Yes, I was here yesterday… I saw you, remember?”
Chatter: “Oh, right right. So today I was in the locker room and these boys that must have been teenagers were shrieking and I was plugging my ears thinking, oh gosh, why must they do that…”
And it has begun.
As the chatter spends the next 15 minutes telling me about his day, what he ate, who he saw, and about his experience having a colonoscopy (yes… insert unamused face here), I find myself wondering if my workout would ever be finished. Did I look really welcoming or something? Maybe I need to work on that.
By the time he has finished detailing his life and telling me what parts of my body need work, I feel exhausted. I hadn’t even worked out yet! Do I start over at my first set of chest presses? Do I move on to the next exercise? I’ve lost my gym flow, my concentration is completely thrown.
The worst one was just a few weeks ago when I was on the final sprint of my run. Red-faced, wheezing and running as fast as I can… he saddles up at my side (like the folks to the left except I was not smiling in return) to tell me a story about his stomach ache from some bad milk that he drank…
I could never tell the chatter it is time to stop talking. I just don’t have the heart! He really is a sweet man and means well… it’s just that there are days when all I want to do is get my workout in and scoot on out of there. Sometimes you’ve just got to work off a hard day in peace!