I grew up without any steady healthy relationships, and spent most of my life “relationally challenged”. But, over the years, with the help of healing, counseling, books and some long-suffering friends, my relational I.Q. has improved. That has made me much more aware of relational issues that the average person may miss.
I started back to the gym. I go at the same time every day, four or five times a week. I take the same class (which varies the workout every other week) with the same people. I am only at the gym for one hour and most of the time I am sweating, and trying to breathe, not start up conversations. But, since we are all relational creatures, inevitably small talk happens and you learn a little bit about each other. I now have “Gym Friends”. The difference with gym friends is that intimacy doesn’t come from talking, it comes from sharing.
My wife and I have been married for 26 years. My friends are her friends and her friends are my friends…except for my gym friends. She doesn’t know one of them. That is a new dynamic in our relationship. You might say, “Yeah, but you only see them an hour a couple times a week”. Yes, that is true. But, there is a level of intimacy you develop at the gym.
- We see each other stripped down to the basics/ no frills.
- We high five and hug each other while pouring the sweat.
- We observe one another about to puke after a particularly grueling workout.
- We witness each other’s body parts bouncing, jiggling and stretching in a way that none had ever hoped to see.
- We share the bathroom, locker room, and showers.
- We see each other’s weaknesses (overweight, flawed, and unable to do a chin up) and cheer for each other.
I would say there is a great deal of intimacy that happens at the gym. Working out with my gym friends has become a favorite part of my day/week. Yes, I am more vulnerable at the gym than at other times, but I also don’t have any unrealistic demands put on me by my friends there. So here’s a shout out to my gym friends. I wish everyone had some.