Mile 587: An Introvert’s Guide to the Gym

Standard

“I spent my life becoming invisible.
It’s hard to maintain, and it’s hard to get by.”
–Neko Case, “Nothing to Remember”

Miles last week: 51
Total miles: 587

One of the good things about the Internet (that seems like an oxymoron) is that I feel like people generally better understand the difference between introverts and extroverts. That, or the Internet really only exists so that you can validate yourself and I frequently peruse the geek board on Pinterest, which sometimes has pins that tell you it’s okay be an introvert–pins like this one:

Basically, introverts are introspective, watchful, quiet, and need alone time to recharge. This, of course, causes a whole host of problems and assumptions that are slightly beside the point right now. What we’re talking about today is how being an introvert can affect your gym time.

That’s right. There, unfortunately, can be a social aspect to working out. There are people there. And sometimes they try to talk to you when you’re huffing and puffing and generally being a disgusting, sweaty mess. It’s madness.

If you’re an introvert like me (I know–you’re completely shocked to discover this personal detail about myself), then social interaction takes a bit more energy than it does for extroverts, whether you realize it or not. At the gym, though, you need every bit of energy you have to concentrate on burning those calories and not dropping weights on your foot. You’re going to have to take some steps to make sure no one else there does anything annoying, like talk to you.

As an introvert who frequents the gym, I am prepared to share my wisdom with you. Just follow these tips to ensure that you have plenty of fortitude to make it through a workout without collapsing from conversation-induced exhaustion.

Buy noise-cancelling headphones.
Nothing says “unapproachable” like completely covering your ears with technology specifically designed to muffle all sound around you. The only bad thing is that they’ll make your ears sweat. It’s also not very fun when you break them and have to duct tape them back together, but your hair keeps getting stuck in the adhesive when you wear them. I heard that from a friend…who is definitely not me…

Pick one machine and stick with it.
If you’re getting up and moving around to different areas of the gym, there is a chance that you will accidentally make eye contact with someone. And we all know what eye contact leads to: acknowledgement of another person that you may have to speak to. Whether it’s a quiet hello or a mumbled apology for almost crashing into him or her, this is a needless expense of energy that you will undoubtedly need if you have any hope of being able to move after a few sets of squats. If you ever squat and fall over, just know it’s because you nodded at that person when he or she walked past you on the way to the water fountain.

If you must move around, make sure you have your phone.
Your phone is a vital tool in evading social interaction. I tend to wait until after I’m off the elliptical or treadmill and on my way to the paper towels (because I’m sanitary and clean off any machine I touch) before I tell MyFitnessPal how many calories I’ve burned so that I can avoid looking at any people–or, you know, where I’m going. I only SOMETIMES run into things, okay?

Just pretend you know what you’re doing.
Whatever you do, DON’T ASK ANYONE HOW ANYTHING WORKS. There are diagrams on the machines for a reason, y’all.

Close your eyes when using equipment.
This will make it look like you are concentrating and working hard on muscle definition when you’re really just trying to stop yourself from glancing around the room and looking like a creeper. On a side note–don’t close your eyes when using the elliptical or treadmill, as this may result in vertigo or personal injury. I also heard that from a friend…

So there you have it. The key to surviving at the gym as an introvert is essentially to avoid eye contact and act like you belong.

Good luck out there, introvs*.

*I’m so sorry. I was trying to make “introvert” cool and abbreviated. I see now that it was a bad idea and deeply regret my attempt at colloquialism.

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3 responses »

  1. Wow that quote sounds like me… I think that may be why I like taking long walks. Not really anyone else around so I can just listen to music or ponder things without talking for a long period of time. My life is always so loud, any quiet is welcome. I know you’re there to concentrate on calories, but it’s ok to have the occassional chat. You might learn about some class or event that would be fun. But by all means don’t talk if you’re worried about collapsing mid-squat. 🙂

    • I’m always worried about collapsing mid-squat. And you’re not invisible! It’s completely understandable that you need some quiet time–I would, too. I’m actually surprised you aren’t deaf yet. 😉

      • Sometimes I do hear a bit of a ringing… and I have ‘misheard’ something a time or two.

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