Certain spaces tend to cause my introverted self to become more, shall we say, pronounced. If I were to describe some characteristics of these spaces that I found most unpleasant to spend time in, a few things come to mind:
- Spaces with bright lighting
- Spaces with loud, unpleasant music blaring
- Hypersexual spaces
- Spaces full of extroverted, annoyingly energetic, overly confident people making animal noises as they lift weights
Does this sound like a gym to you?
Well, I have some news for you.
In actual fact, what I’m describing is more of a nightclub space, or maybe even a shopping mall – but not a gym. Yes it’s true that gyms have bad lighting, loud music, and can (sometimes) be hypersexual; however, what’s not true is that they are full of loudly extroverted, annoyingly energetic, overly confident people.
I sure was. When I first committed to going to the gym, I was overwhelmed with feelings of introverted angst. Here I was, choosing to spend several hours a week in a space full of the loud, high energy people who exhaust the hell out of me. And that was on top of the painful lighting, loud music, and hypersexual nature of the space. It was not easy-going at first.
But then something happened.
Over the course of a year of working out in one of Toronto’s few independent gyms, I discovered something about 75% of the people I was sharing the space with:
Gym-goers are largely shy, quiet types.
I was completely floored. All around me were these confident looking gym-heads with athletic, toned, muscular bodies. All around me were these people choosing to be in this characteristically extroverted space where there is no privacy – a space where we’re all on a stage of sorts.
But as I started speaking with them – it would happen from time-to-time as a question here or there, “Are you finished with this rack?” or “Can you spot me on chest press?” – I noticed (as we introverts tend to do) that they are all…
…a little shy, a little awkward, and, for the most part, humble.
And then it dawned on me: one of the biggest characteristics of an introvert is someone who enjoys spending time alone – and although you’re not technically “alone” in a gym (you’re surrounded by people) there is an interiority about exercise, one characterized by you spending time with yourself in the self-competitive way required of working out.
So while of course there will always be the loud extroverted types at the gym, the cool thing is that they are truly the minority. They might act like they own the place, or drop the weights and groan like they’re the alpha act of a circus freak show, but believe me when I say that everyone else in the gym (including myself) sighs inwardly at the them.
*Rolls eyes internally.*