At The Gym My Thoughts Are My Music

Yesterday at the gym I finished a set, put the weights down, looked up, and inadvertently made eye contact with another person who was also working out. I didn’t mean to lock eyes with this guy but he was staring at me as I did my set so naturally when I looked up in his direction our eyes locked. I see this guy every single day as he is also a rec center regular and when I caught his gaze I knew he had something to say. Sure enough he walked right over to me and asked a question:

“Hey man, isn’t it bullshit that they don’t have music playing right now?”

The guy was right. Instead of the 70’s rock hits or the assortment of Pink, Adele, Barenaked Ladies, and Jewel they usually have playing, on this day the place was silent. Instead of responding to his question with a question of my own asking him why he just doesn’t use a personal iPod like 95% of the people I see in the gym, I decided to trail off on my own thoughts…

I don’t use a personal music device at the gym. I don’t pay attention to the music that my workout center decides to push through the speakers. I don’t even realize it when the place is dead silent. When I work out, I don’t have lyrics aiding me as I sweat it out. I don’t have angry rock music screaming in my ears or a David Guetta beat sending energy through my veins. Rather, I just have my thoughts.

When I work out, I do my best thinking. I get into a trance, shut off the people around me, focus, and let my mind go wild as I move weight around and run the track. I definitely feel the physical toll on my body as I perform my workout regimen but it is made bearable because mentally I am always engaged in something interesting. When I work out I come up with my best ideas, look at work issues in a whole new light, come up with most of my blog topics, and evaluate my personal life. For me, music just kind of gets in the way.

Not that I don’t understand the value music can have on a good lifting session. In high school we routinely blared loud, obnoxious music during our zero hour weights class. I can admit that it got my adrenaline pumping a notch or two more and may have helped me add a few pounds to my maxes. I know our athletes at Montana like strong, beat dropping music during their workouts, I hear it each time I am within 500 feet of the athletic performance center. Seeing some of the big marks they have hit, obviously it is helping them too. But I am just past that point now.

I no longer need to lift heavy weights and max out every other week. Instead of lifting for numbers, I lift for myself. I lift for the body I want and at the pace I want. Because of this, I find music unnecessary. I just need my state of mind and I am ready to tackle my workout.

During my workout I argue with myself, bring myself down, lift myself up, and just dig deep. I am in continual dialogue with myself and it takes me through the whole duration of my physical activity. I definitely play a game of tug-of-war internally, but by the time I finish my workout and the endorphins are flowing I usually always feel that I have not only succeeded physically but mentally as well.

For someone like myself who is in charge of using music to amp up 26,000 people to ecstatic levels, you would think that I would depend on it for every facet of my life. But I don’t. In one of the most accepted avenues to use music as a motivator (the gym) I have the volume muted. I covet the time I have to really examine myself while working out and I don’t need music to get in the way…

Although the explanation probably took you a little longer to read, it actually only took me one second to give the guy his answer about the lack of the music. Not wanting to get in a long discussion with the guy, I gave him the easy answer so I could get back to my thoughts:

“Yeah man, it totally sucks.”

Don’t Blink.

The Importance of Working Out

If someone approached me and asked me to recommend one thing that they should incorporate into their daily routine for the rest of their life I would not hesitate with my answer: Work out. I know my advice is not revolutionary. Experts, doctors, teachers, coaches, insurance companies, and even employers all advise the same thing. Sometimes I like to go away with mass opinion but not here. The single most important thing we can do for our personal welfare is to work out four-five times a week for at least an hour.

Before I get into the benefits of a steady workout, I just want to briefly expel terrible excuses people use to dodge exercising (I have ranted about this before so I promise I will make it quick). I am too busy. No, you are not too busy to work out. Everyone is busy. There are twenty-four hours in the day, out of all those hours you can surely find one to hit the gym. Go before work/class, go during your lunch hour, go after work/class. If those times don’t work for you, just choose a non-conventional time. Most all areas have 24-hour gyms. Get a membership there and go at an early bird or late night hour. My dad gets up at 4 a.m. to get his workout done. If my 55 year old dad can do it, I know you can! I am too tired. You are tired? Great! Nothing like a good workout to get you filled with energy. But you really like the feeling of being tired? Don’t worry, after the adrenaline fueled energy leaves your body a much more satisfying sense of tiredness will set into your soul and you will be so glad you got that exercise in. The gym is too busy/too expensive/too inconvenient. Get over whatever anti-gym excuse you have, suck it up, and just get there! You know there is that saying that goes “90% of life is just showing up”? It is true! Just get to the gym, block everything else out, and focus on working hard.

Okay, enough with the above excuses and the millions others that people conjure up. Unless you are physically unable to move there is really no excuse not to work out (yes, I know there are exceptions). Let’s move onto the positives though…

Working out does wonders for the physical body. Sorry to state the obvious but I couldn’t resist. If you have a decent plan when you enter the gym, you are benefiting your body. Our bodies need exercise, especially in the culture that we live in and we must constantly feed it….no, not with hamburgers and sodas but with physical activity. Everything from the heart to the muscles to the lungs to the skin to the blood flow improves dramatically from regular exercise. Those of us who work in offices owe it to our body to give it anaerobic and aerobic attention. Sitting in an office for several hours each day has a detrimental impact on our systems and we can’t afford to neglect exercise. The pictures that show organs that are in bodies that exercise compared to those that don’t are like night and day. Our bodies are our own personal temples and we need to upkeep them by staying active.

When we work out, we also improve our physique. Now I am by no means a decent example of this but most other people who work their butt off in the gym have great bodies. Honestly, what would you rather have….a hard body or a soft body? Or let me put it this way, what would your significant other or your dream girl/guy rather you have…a hard body or a soft body? While the bodies we see on magazines and on television/movies are sometimes unrealistic, my basic point is that we can make our physique so much better by just going to the gym on a regular basis as opposed to not. So while many of us actually won’t obtain a hard body we can still obtain a body that is better than a soft body (aka a body that doesn’t work out).

Aside from physical benefits, there is no better booster for our mental state than working out. After a tough, sweat-filled session of exercise you get the ultimate high. Walking off of the gym floor after you gave it your all is such a wonderful feeling. For me, I can finally relax in my head after my workout is complete. The sense of accomplishment that you get after a workout is addictive and satisfying. I could never see an improvement in my physical body for the rest of my life but I would continue to work out solely because of the gratification I get from doing so. This ending feeling of gratification is definitely worth all the hassle, inconvenience, pain, sacrifice, anguish, dedication, and heart that is put into before and during the workout.

I would be lying if I said the social aspect of going to the gym is not a benefit. Now I don’t mean social in terms of yaking with everyone who is in the building at the same time as you. I guess I should rather call it the “respect aspect.” I don’t talk while I am in the gym. I go by myself, work out, and leave. But there is something about seeing the same people day in and day out. I see them and they see me. I nod my head and am courteous and aware of them. And even though I don’t really talk to them, there is that bond there, a bond between consistent gym goers that recognizes the hard work that is taking place. Even though we might not say much to each other in the gym, if we ran into each other at the store or the bar, we would immediately exchange pleasantries and talk for a couple minutes like we are good friends. You can only get this type of relationship at the gym. Now that’s cool.

I like to think I covered the main aspects for making the effort to work out at the gym: Physical well-being, respectable appearance, positive mental state, and a satisfying social connection. I believe that when these four keys are obtained people become more confident, energetic, fun, alert, optimistic, happy, and most of all….HEALTHY!

One final tip. Besides just striving for the four main things I discussed, make sure to have a couple of personal motivators to help you always make it to the gym and work out hard. My list includes items that we should all want but each one of us has our own personal goals that we strive for. Work those into your desire for hitting the gym hard and you should never feel “too tired” or “too busy” again. Don’t Blink.