When people talk about “lost art forms,” I am fairly certain they aren’t referring to the art of sharing equipment at the gym; however, from the trend I’ve noticed at most gyms lately, maybe they should be.
For many people gyms were (and still are) a “great good place” – a place where the community comes together in a common space and interacts. Depending on the day, you could find people who only recently met talking about the best chin-up form to cranking out their cardio while holding deep conversations about everything from their personal lives to world politics.
There has been a shift though- while I still see friends interacting, I don’t see people striking up the random conversations with people next to them while they’re both taking a break between sets.
Still worse, people are so completely plugged into their devices (music players, cell phones, etc.) that they’ve completely tuned out of all that’s around them. The most basic gym interaction – working in with someone – is no longer the norm.
I have joked with folks that it’s funny (and sad) how people behave as though they have their names engraved on the side of a machine announcing their ownership and thereby their right to monopolize whatever they’re using.
This ‘secret name plate’ apparently gives people permission to use a machine as long as they want without letting anyone else use it – even going so far as sitting during their rest time. And when you ask to work in, it’s as though you’ve interrupted a private moment; and that they “only” have 3 more sets shouldn’t upset you or be that big of a deal.
And when that happens, I long to return to a time where equipment sharing and random conversations are once again the norm. After all, a gym should not only be a place where a person lifts weights to strengthen their physical being, but also strengthen their relationships within the community.
Weigh in: Do you strike up conversations with new people while you’re working out at your hometown gym?