Tim’s Take on True Toughness

“There is no way I can do this. Everyone will look at me and judge. I will never look like them. I don’t even know how or who to ask. I will surely embarrass myself.” The tears begin to flow, but he says, “I have to try.”

The doors open, and the glow of the fluorescent lights pierces his eyes. The sound of clanging iron plates and treadmills fills the air. His anxiety builds, but he musters up the courage to continue. “I have to try.”

I observed a young man cautiously walk over to a bench press station. He puts plates on the bar and positions himself underneath. He un-racks the weight, and it immediately sinks to his chest. The panic begins to set in as he cannot move the weight. A man swoops in and states “what are you doing?”, lifts the bar off the young man with one arm, shakes his head in annoyance, and walks away.

His face turns bright red, and the tears build in his eyes. I am always hesitant to interrupt during someone’s workout to be respectful. This time seemed different to me, and I felt led to do so.  

I approached him and stated that it has happened to us all at one time or another, so don’t give up. I go back to my workout, and a short time later, I am approached by the young man. He said that he was sorry to bother me and asked if I could spot him. After, he asked my opinion on a couple of additional exercises, and we begin to briefly talk. He explained that he had never worked out before. He then slightly dropped his head and stated that his dad had recently passed due to poor health. He explained that he did not want to die. He told me that every day he stated to himself: 

“There is no way I can do this. Everyone will look at me and judge. I will never look like them. I don’t even know how or who to ask. I will surely embarrass myself, but I have to try”.

It took every ounce of courage he had to even walk through the doors. He stated that while he was grateful for the man that grabbed the bar off him, he also made him feel embarrassed and ashamed. He explained that he was going to run as quickly as possible out the front door before my approach.

There is no glory in making someone feel less than. It doesn’t make you any less manly to show compassion and encouragement. Let’s practice these virtues together and make this world a little better than we found it.  

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