Life Lessons Learned from the Gym

It has been said that the entire world can be a classroom if you pay close enough attention. I’ve learned recently that this statement is very true. If you have been reading my previous posts, you already know that one of the promises I made to myself this year was that I was going to be more active in the gym. The reason was two-fold. Firstly, my love handles were becoming filled with too much love. Secondly, I cannot practice law with a criminal conviction of the type I am likely to get if I do not collect the endorphins exercise (especially cardio) gives me. For the past month I picked up some lessons I believe should be applied across all facets of life. Indulge me, let me talk your ear off!


Honestly. This is one of the most important lessons. Because cardio machines are lined up side by side, it is easy to glance over at the person running or ‘ellipitical’ing’ (made up word, I know) next to you. There are times when the person seems to be outdoing you and so you feel pressured to keep up. And, then there are the times when you seem to be doing so much better than the other person smugness creeps in. Sounds familiar? I swear this happens at work, with your friends, in school and beyond. You ever stay up all night studying and end up with a ‘B’ and feel dismal even though you did you best because Smarty Pants Suzy pulled off an A after writing the same exam tipsy? Or, how about being excited that you are losing so much more weight than your friend and you end up slacking off on your eating and exercise regime? Come on, you know exactly what I am talking about. We spend so much time with our nose in other people’s business that it affects our own. Just like everyone’s exercise routine is different - we are all on different paths in life. Hell, the woman who might be walking slowly on the treadmill may have just had an excellent strength training session. You never know! So, stop judging yourself according to the progress others are making. We are not living the same life. We do not know what other people go through to get where they are. We are not all meant to graduate, date, get married, procreate, open businesses, lose weight, get promoted, write books or gain that booty at the same rate! The only thing you need to be concerned about is doing the best that you can do. Once you know you aren’t out there sleep-walking or being downright lazy - pull a Jay Z “and “brush your shoulders off”. You’re doing better than you think!


It is a universal truth of any gym I have ever been to that most persons fail to wipe down the machines after they use them. I can never be sure if a person usually wipes down but was just absent-minded on that one occasion or if they just never do. You might be wondering why wiping down the machine is even a thing. Well, because there is literally only one activity in life where it is acceptable to be covered in someone else’s sweat. I religiously wipe the machine down but after one session of watching three people use the same unwiped machine, I realized leaving the machine clean for the next person doesn’t guarantee that the previous person did the same. The clear solution to this is to wipe down the machine twice: before and after I use it. It might seem like a bit of a hassle but it helps me keep the machine clean for the next person as well as gives me the peace of mind that I am not swapping sweat with the person before me. I might clean it as a courtesy to next person but I realized that in life no one owes you anything. At all. The only thing we are owed is non-interference in our lives. But, no one has to go out of their way to make things better or more helpful for you. Your co-workers do not have to be team players, your friends don’t have to stop smoking around you because you’re trying to quit, your professor doesn’t have to answer that email asking for clarification, your friends do not have to help promote your business and that boy doesn’t have to text you back! I mean those things might be nice but you aren’t owed them. It is important to take responsibility for the things in your life. Have your own back! The only person who owes you anything is you!


Although I mess around with some strength training during the week, I primarily strength train on Saturdays under the supervision of a trainer because well, let’s face it, I am an awkward duck. I need someone to ensure I don’t throw out my back, or something. Two Saturdays ago we were working on my biceps and triceps as well as what might have been an ab exercise from the depths of hell. I always started off comfortably for the first five or six repetitions but after that things always became dire. Full confession, I failed after the first two repetitions of that Hades ab routine. When my muscles started the burn, the urge was always there to drop all the weights and say, “This has been fun and all but nah…”. However, that is usually a crucial mistake. It is when it started to burn that the reps really started to matter. The burn was telling my body that my muscles were having to actually put effort in to complete the movement.

So, when your writers’ block seems most intense, when your body really, really wants that KFC, when you no longer want to read your text books, when you want to leave your to do list until tomorrow, when you really want to call your ex, when you really want to sleep in instead of heading to the gym - that is when you need to try harder. Embrace the burn. These are the most important moments. It is after you push through these toughest moments you realize the breakthrough is usually just behind the wall.


“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail” - I have no idea who really said this. According to the internet, it could be anyone from Benjamin Franklin to Buddha. Whoever said it, was spitting all the truth though. In the gym, as in life, it is important to show up prepared. On the days when I have my coffee half an hour before I roll through, have my Grime playlist on the ready (or Private Ryan), I always get a better workout in. I work harder, faster and happier than when I come tired and without the boost I get from my music. It is important to set aside the time required to prepare. It might be studying, meal prepping, plotting or sketching. You always maximize your efforts when you have spent even the minimum amount of time putting the necessary things in place. If you do not study for your exam - you will not do as well as you can. I mean, you might still pass if your recall is great and you may pass well but you will never achieve what you could have if you were more prepared.

We have arrived at the end of our first month. How are things going? Are you still awake? Are you seeing dividends on your efforts? What can you do better? I think it is important to spend some time evaluating (switching up on the use of the word reflecting) to ensure the train isn’t derailing!

Have a good week and an even better month! We got this!