Gym is the healthiest environment that ever happened to me

From the outside a real gym seems to be unfriendly place... Big sweaty guys, steroids, swear words, competition, making fun of newcomers. Is this actually the truth, or maybe it’s just how others picture them?

This is exactly what my mom kept saying to me when I was a teenage:

You can’t join the gym… You’re too easily influenced! There are steroids, drugs, some badly behaving guys. You’re just too good for this.

To be honest, that’s also exactly how I was always picturing gym to be like. During my life I was really into a lot of sports, but once I became teenager, and I saw a couple of my older friends getting bulked, and looking actually way better than they used to in the past, I decided that I want to try this gym thing as well. 
The problem was my parents… Don’t get me wrong, I actually am really happy that they always tried to protect me from bad influences, even though sometimes it drove me crazy!
Fortunately, my brother-in-law in the past had his own gym in the basement, so he promised me that we can set up everything and I can give it a shot. I started reading some articles, putting together some workout plans, I even asked politely my mom if she could cook something else for me — which turned out to be plain chicken and rice, and she was rather super-angry with this, but... 😂

It was really great, learning something completely new, feeling different impulses going through my body. Somehow, I was still missing something. It turned out that what I was actually missing, was not the act of working out or getting bigger. I was actually missing a gym culture. Since my parents saw I got into this, and they also saw that more and more of my friends attend regular gym, they finally gave me the green light and I’ve joined the real gym!

My and my nephew at the gym

That was the breakthrough… Literally! By this time I thought I was a lot stronger than I used to be, so the first day at the gym, I put some plates and for the first time tried bench press. I wasn’t weak… I was just missing some experience, and what’s even more important, I was missing the respect to the iron. I took it for granted that if I lay on a bench and push I’ll easily do the rep. Luckily enough, there was this older guy who helped me get the bar off my chest.

Respect the Iron!

That was actually the first lesson I learned the hard way on the gym. You have to respect the iron. It’s your enemy at the gym and it may feel quite simple, you take it, push or pull, and that’s it… You can’t be more wrong! There are many more things which you have to consider, like your technique, your movement, your general condition. All in all, it’s about having respect.

After that incident, the very same guy kept an eye on me everytime we were at the gym at the same time. Seriously, this guy approached me everytime, gave me some great advices, talked about a lot of different stuff — not always gym related. You may say, he became my friend, and it happened so quickly, that at this time, I didn’t even realize it. 
That’s another thing really important to the gym culture. Everyone, thin, big, strong, weak, fat… No matter who. We take care of each other! If you’re a newcomer, you can ask guys about stuff, and very likely they’ll answer or even show you how to deal with the gym stuff, but you have to listen. It’s really easy to make fool from yourself and end on a “Funny gym fails compilation” video on YouTube— it’s all up to you.

Ask, listen, repeat…

Very quickly you’ll realize that all of these meatheads know stuff. Not only realted to the gym, but usually they’re people who know thing or two about nutrition, medicine, politics, lifestyle, engineering… (I’m a programmer, so if you approach me, we can always talk about some design patterns 😉) So you end up discussing a lot of different stuff while simply doing your thing at the gym. What’s even more surprising, a lot of big, tough guys I met at the gym don’t fit their bodies. You usually consider a big guy to be dumb, because he obviously didn’t achieve more in his life then being able to go to the gym and do some lifting. Most of the time they are a people with well established point of view. They consider a lot of factors and try not to judge without any solid reason.
I met a lot of different guys. Some of them spent quite some time in jails, and guess what? I wouldn’t have guessed until they told me this! Those guys vere really smart in many different aspects of life! One was a competing bodybuilder with a lot of experience and the thing he told me about nutrition were unbelievable to me… I mean, no sweet talk, he put everything on the table and clarified a lot of lies in commercial healthy lifestyles.

Get surprised. Don’t judge too early!

Later in my life, when I’ve learned a thing or two about lifting weights, I get into some competitive powerlifting at the academic level, but quickly turned out that it’s not so easy. I was really happy with the results and everything, but after almost two years it turned out, during the pre-competition examination, that I have some back injury, and it’s serious enough that I have to take some break from heavy weights. I started treating gym more like a hobby. It was sad, but again, lack of respect showed up… During my powerlifting episode I met some of my best friends, and even though we no longer compete nor workout together, we’re still a pack of really good friends! What’s even more interesting, while we were competing against each other, the only result of it was strengthening our friendship! We were motivating each other to push to the limits, we were yelling at each other to give more, and when you saw your friend hitting 3 plates on bench… You knew, you want it as well!

Competition is good, especially when it’s driven by a motivation!

As you can see, I get a lot from the gym. Actually, what I’ve learned at the gym affects my whole life — my relationships, my work, my attitude. 
Thanks to the gym I’ve learned a lot about respect, tolerance— actually, about myself! I became more self-confident, more determine, and of course, I met a lot of great people.

You may say it’s just me, but I’ve discussed my feelings towards the gym with other people. I asked about their stories, and basically, they all felt very similiar to me!
Gym is one of the really few things about which my parents weren’t really happy, but I proved them wrong, and right now they also became a real advocates of gym, and they see how much hatred and false info about gym culture is around in the media.

Don’t hesitate to tell me your story! If you’re a gym buddy, I hope you feel the same… If not, don’t be scared and join the gym forces today! 💪