Vail Daily column: Is it hot in here or is it me?
August 12, 2010
When I’m doing sit-ups at the gym people are always checking me out.
I know it sounds delusional, but that doesn’t mean it is not true.
Usually I’ll be doing my “Ab’s of Steel” routine while listening to Sarah Palin speeches on my iPod when I’ll glance up and catch someone looking at me from across the room; when I stare back they quickly look away. This has happened time and time again and I will say this has motivated me to do more sit-ups. I’ve been doing so many sets of “Ab’s of Steel” I now have to clean the lint out of my belly button with an SOS pad.
When I came home to brag about this to my mate, to her credit, she didn’t point out that I’m far from being the most fit, youngest, best-looking person using that facility. She simply asked: “Was there a young, hot, buffed-out guy working out directly behind you?”
Undaunted, I went to the gym yesterday to work out – and to get checked out; unfortunately I forgot my iPod.
The only place I usually wear an iPod is at the gym. It’s a great tool to pass the time and to keep people from talking to you. If you see someone you need to speak to you can take out one ear, do your business and go back to work. I don’t think I have worked out with empty ears for several years.
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About a quarter of the way through my abdominal routine, I was distracted by some horrible grunting sounds. I was half-way through when I realized something rather shocking: I was the one doing the grunting. Then, it dawned on me the reason why people always seemed to be checking me out: They were wondering if that old dude doing sit-ups was giving birth or having a stroke. For the first time in years, I could hear myself, and it wasn’t a pretty sound.
For the rest of my workout, I kept my grunts inside.
Sometimes you have to make an effort to listen to yourself.
Many people, myself included, would be well-served if we stopped to hear, look, and actually see ourselves as we appear to others.
I wish I could say my grunting at the gym is my only crime related to lack of self-awareness. Like many, I lurch through my life assuming my thoughts, needs and moods take precedent above all else. Unfortunately I don’t always have the excuse of an iPod causing me to be deaf to myself.
I think the problem is one of empathy. We usually think empathy means being able to fathom another person’s feelings, but I also think it can mean seeing yourself through the lens of those around you – being aware of how you are perceived by your fellow humans
Sometimes, when I do or say something without considering the consequences, my mate will ask, “Did you hear what you just said?”
My response usually is “Of course I heard it – I said it.” But in truth, I often say things without hearing them because, in addition to not listening to others, I often don’t listen to myself. I don’t think I’m alone in this. “All lies and jest; still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” (The Boxer).
Bearing that in mind, I’ve been trying to listen more to myself to and to others while at the same time making a concerted effort to grunt less. I’ve also stopped wearing my iPod when I’m doing sit-ups at the gym. I have to say, even though it was for the wrong reason, I miss the attention. At least now I’ll know if someone looks my way, it’s not because I’m snorting like a warthog in heat. In fact, only yesterday while doing my routine – grunt free – I saw a young lady looking my direction and smiling. I was feeling pretty good about myself, I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my mate, until I noticed a young guy – about half my age – working out directly behind me. He was wearing an i-Pod.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com