T Nation

A Solo Sport?

I’m curious - are weight lifters and bodybuilders mainly single or does it just seem that way? I realize that I’m at a small gym, but there are only 5 couples, including me. Everyone else is single, or comes without their partner. And here at T-Mag we do have a few couples, but very few.

What is it about weightlifting that makes people single? Is it our chicken grilling, cooler toting, supplement buying obsessiveness? The difficulty of cooking dinner for us or the challenge of buying us clothing that actually fits? Or is it simply that weightlifting is mainly done by people who are younger and thus more likely to be single?

Just curious about other people’s perceptions!!

When I was young(er) and (more) foolish, I tried a couple of times to interest my significant other in going into the gym with me. It rarely worked. I think that there are just too many chances to be argumentative and too many opportunities for your partner to take some well-meant criticism the wrong way. It might be different if you originally met as one person asking the other for advice in the gym, but in a more “normal” scenario I think it gets too competitive.

In my experience, the best way to get around the problem is to bring your partner to a gym that has someone in it who you trust (I know, I know), and then let that person train him/her for a while. Gets the partner into the gym, but completely avoids the friction that can so easily occur.

 Speaking as a graduate of Psyche 105 in High School (Garden City Collegiate ~ "Our City is the Gardeniest") and the proud recipient of a solid "C+" in said class I feel uniquely qualified to answer this question.

I would like to point out that I should have received a much higher mark but my Teacher Mr. Minish hated it when I called him “Minny” and insisted that my wardrobe and behaviour was a cry for attention…ME!, can you imagine? Anyway, Minny and I didn’t see eye to eye and this was exasperated when I met his Daughter…Hubba, Hubba. It turns out that there are a whole lot of things a Father does not want to hear about his Daughter and many of them start with “I would like to…”. Just a tip for you youngsters.

So…why is this a …Before I get to the question at hand, can I get a show of hands from those who thought that this was another “masturbation” thread?..The title “A Solo Sport” is a little misleading…of course, that did not stop me from reading it right away.

And hoping it was a pictorial.

Anyway, A Solo Sport?, well I think that the narcissistic elements are only the tip of the Iceberg. Deeper are the reasons that we do this, many of which may not be so noble like: self improvement, self respect etc… and may tend to be rooted in Ego (the unhealthy aspect) and the resulting inflated sense of self worth that results from, well, results. As our reasons may be rooted in less than ideal foundations one of the emotional manifestations of this is that we set the bar EXTREMELY high for ourselves, something that is GOOD but comes from a place that is BAD. The result is that when we fail while trying to do something GOOD it sits like poison in our belly’s (BAD). Now this poison when self inflicted is bad enough but when we transfer these expectations onto another person, well things can deteriorate in the relationship rather quickly.

As our own sense of self worth and accomplishment increases, the gap between our "old" selves and the "new" ones widens as does the gap in those "old" relationships <u>if</u> they are involved in a unsuccessful, participatory manner in the evolution of self. If the relationships are left on the "sidelines" it is easier for us to not have to acknowledge the ever increasing gap in the relationship.

This would be the “Ostrich Schwarzenegger Syndrome”

Or maybe not.

“It’s strictly the schoolboy syndrome [and] seems to last well into adulthood”

~ Elliott Carroll

I started training with a friend, and this quickly became my time.
As time has gone on I have had a couple of relationships and both times the partners were committed trainers them selves. They made their living in the industry.
The weird thing was I felt caught between admiring them and wanting to benefit from their vast knowledge and a strong feeling like the LAST thing I wanted to do was follow them around like a puppy in the gym.
It was still my time, Sacred !!!

As such I go in to a cationic state where the rest of the people there are non apparent.

I like being there in that state of oneness, thinking; I talk my self through stuff, so when it is also a time to share with my partner I am quite protective.

On a lighter note the rare times when I would follow their lead I am now great full as I did learn allot, however during the training session I lost all my grounding.
I became the world’s greatest clutzzzzzzz
I went to do the cable crunches with the rope, and on my graceful return to standing I whacked my head on the grip bar!!! I walked in to things.

Heck I even dropped the bar + 90lbs on my knee because I didn’t understand how to back away from it if it fell!!!

33cc of blood latter drained from my knee, and a week off training I felt stupid.
But he down played it and blamed it on the bar not spinning properly!
Nice guy!:0)
Bet my boyfriend thought I was a mix between Three’s company Chrissy, and Pain Killer Jane from HellBoy (see girl in bandages)!!!

I think it takes time, men want to share, they get excited, and sometimes don’t understand what it feels like to have 20 people staring at your ass.
Time it the key here, and finding a place where they are comfortable.

Polar Princess- I can’t tell you how lucky I think your man is.
If you are ever in Calgary I would love to train with you.

I tried to post a response earlier to this but I don’t think it went through so I will try again. Sorry if it comes up twice.
I don’t know if people who weight train are more likely to be single than those who don’t, I just think it’s something that many people prefer to do alone. I think lifting attracts people who are solitary and a little introverted by nature. It’s also an activity that many partners don’t understand and are maybe a little intimidated by. People often resent the things they fear and the activities that steal time away from their partner. This seems to often lead to the non-lifting partner feeling that the other is obsessed with training and a little narcisistic. They don’t understand, that while this may be true when you first took up weight training, it evolves to something much more as you get older. It simply becomes a part of who you are. It’s something you just do like brushing your teeth before bed. It becomes a part of your identity, not to the outside world, but to yourself. Maybe people who lift do stay single a little longer as they desire to find someone who understands this need to live this lifestyle.
I know that even when I’ve been in a relationship with a woman who is as serious about training as I am, I have still preferred to train alone. I don’t enjoy the company of training partners either. It’s not because when I go to lift I become some intense, crazed workout animal, it’s simply because it’s my time to live in my own head.

“sometimes don’t understand what it feels like to have 20 people staring at your ass.”

Mmmmmmmmmm, E’s ass. Drool…

Anyways, back to reality. I think what Magnus said is right, lifting tends to attract more introverts than extroverts. I’ve seen in personal experiences that extroverts are the same type of people that want results instantly and introverts tend to be more patient.

Personally, when I lift, I lift alone. The only time I want somebody with me is when I need a spotter, but when I finish my sets, thank you, now go away.

More generally, not just the opposite sex, but I’ve had too many bad experiences with training partners pussying out and leaving me alone. Lifting at 6AM might’ve had something to do with that but thats not the point. The fact of the matter is if you say you’re gonna wake your ass up @ 6AM, then wake your ass up @ 6AM.

I haven’t really had any experiences with significant others and training. Hell, I haven’t even had very many significant others for a long time. I’m not too sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing. If you seriously have to debate between giving up your cottage and flax meals or making sweet sweet love, then my friend, you have a problem. (I have a problem)

One thing I think we all need to remember is a saying that I like. It says “never expect anything from anybody and you’ll never be disappointed.” I’ve made it my mantra.

Ok I didn’t mean for that to come across bad.
I mean when you are new to any gym, people check you out, both sexes do it.
It is a little nerve wracking.

I agree with Magnus,

I have seen guys in the gym with their g-friends, but not too often. Sometimes I feel bad for the girl because a lot of their time is spent sitting around, looking bored while the dude is lifting, then looking enamored when he asks for his towel.

For me, lifting and training is warfare with myself, I don’t want or need anyone else involved. No one can win the battle for me, so why drag other people into it? Hell, that’s why T-mag exists, so we can learn most everything we need to know about the sport and not have to say a damn word to anyone in the gym if we don’t want to.

I probably sound egotistical or vain, but thats the way I feel.


I’m very lucky in that my partner has become a heavily committed lifter/ trainer who in 2.5 years training shows far more potential than I ever have
(mutter, snarl)in 12.

We don’t train together, except for the odd occasion when I’m taking her through a new program as we train at different speeds/ weights etc adn we end up pissing each other off.

When she’s learning specialist stuff like Olympic lifts we pack her off to the local Guru - I know better than to try and teach her this stuff myself.

Ppositively I’ve found it gives us things to mutually obsess over and also provides a good support thing fo5r us both, like: complaining about diet. Why, DOMS is such a bich when you live down 100 stairs etc.

My ex and I used to go to the gym together and she would train with me from time to time…and stupid me, I would offer advice or “suggestions” and she would take them the wrong way. Believe me, I learned my lesson. In any case, we usually went to the gym together, but I would do my thing (weight training) and she would do hers (aerobics, cardio). Now I am flying solo. But what stinks is that I still see her at the gym from time to time and it sucks cause I miss her so much. But you are right…I rarely ever see couples train together, its pretty rare.

I really find this an interesting question. There are several guys at my gym who I think of as pretty eligible. If I were single, I’d be quite interested, yet these guys, apparently intelligent and definitely hot and fit, can’t seem to find girlfriends. From talking to them, I know they’re definitely solo, not just leaving the girls at home while they work out.

It also interests me because I’m personally torn. Although I love that my guy started coming to the gym with me, is working hard and getting great results, I also prefer to work out alone. Don’t get me wrong - it’s great that he’s there, but unless we’re coincidentally needing the same piece of equipment or one of us needs a spot, it’s like I’m alone. When he started coming, a couple months after I did, we tried working out together, but I found him too social, workouts took longer and were less intense. Much as I love time with my honey, at the gym I’m not there to socialize - I’m on a mission.

Like E~ says, it’s personal time, time to be alone in your own headspace. Not that I’m being anti-social or a bitch, but when I’m there I really AM on a mission. I like to get in the right frame of mind and go kick my goals in the ass. I think that the degree of mental focus really precludes someone else’s participation. On the other hand, when I’m doing something less focused, less goal oriented, like kayaking, biking or hiking, I’m happy for the company.

E~ - I have family in Lethbridge. Next time I’m west for a wedding or whatever, I’ll have to make a detour down your way!

Mr. 'Cake - I SWEAR, I did send a pictorial, but those nasty moderators don’t allow nudity. :slight_smile:

Yes, a very interesting question. My ex would tell you that my “obsession” was a big reason for our divorce. I never really tried to get her to participate, but she never accepted me spending the time “away from her”. The gym wasn’t the only thing she was jealous of, though. This included many times work, my family, even our kids at times. Magnus makes some good points. It really takes someone accepting and secure to make it. As far as working out together with a significant other, I guess that would just depend. I go through times when I want to workout alone. But I’ve had some GREAT workout partners over the years as well. What has to occur is for you to be “in sync” with the workout partner. Similar schedules, similar goals, the same workout of course. I’ve even had some great female workout partners. But these things can’t ALWAYS be in line, so you move on, and if you are “in sync” as I said, they understand. This would need to hold true for a significant other as a workout partner as well. You probably wouldn’t be working out together ALL the time, but when everything meshed right, it would be good. The catch is the acceptance and understanding of when it’s time, for whatever reason, for a change. For Magnus, E, and some others who don’t like a workout partner, that’s where the understanding part comes in. Great if the sig. other wants to work out, but you prefer to be alone. You can talk about your respective workouts afterwards, but keep them separate in the gym. Patricia hit the nail on the head in another thread when she said your significant other should be your BEST FRIEND. There has to be a mutual support system that puts aside egos & selfishness. This subject really struck a chord with me. I guess that the bottom line that I’m getting at is that, yes there’s a lot of us gym rats who are single. It’s tough to find a person whose accepting of certain “behaviors”, haha. This is actually the case no matter if your a lifter or not. I think we (especially us T-folk), at least some of us, may just ask more of a partner. Geez, I feel like I’m rambling. :slight_smile: I’ll shut up now.

I think it’s not that their single, but this pursuit lends itself to singular effort.

But virtually any pursuit taken to the extreme is such. When I was running, I did it alone. When I was heavily into the triathlon world, I did it alone (even though I was married). Bike racing – alone (even though I did team rides and raced on a team, I really rode alone, with no SO involvement.

After that first marriage fell apart, and I remarried, she was involved in the race aspect (bike sherpa), but the training I did alone. She has no interest in taking any sort of athletic pursuit to an extreme. That;s fine with me, as long as she doesn’t try to keep ME from doing it.

My first serious exposure to lifting was when I was 19 and working out at a Balley’s (hardcore, I know). One of the trainers there took a shine to me and made the grandiose gesture of telling me I was wasting my time doing 2+ hours of cardio/machines a day. Asshole. The fact that he was massive (turned out to be a nationally competitive bodybuilder) made me swallow my pride and ask him what the hell he meant. We ended up dating and he trained me. Yup, he carried the puke bucket for me on leg day and I used it more than once. That extreme feeling was addictive.

But could we work out together? Hell no. We may have had similar goals, similar styles (seeing as all I had was his style) and all that but we were so far apart in strength I wouldn’t have been able to spot a single one of his lifts. He’d train me, separating the “us” from the equation, and then do his own thing while I did some finishers or cardio. That worked out very well. But it certainly wasn’t a “training partner” situation.

And that was as close as I’ve ever gotten to actually having a lifting partner.

Sometimes I think I’d like to have a partner, other times not. Sure if all the different variables are met to have it “click” with someone, it could be very advantageous. But the likelihood of that is about nil, and less than nil if you’re talking about a potential mate. I’ve tried several partners but they’ve all turned out to be too chatty, too unfocused, too unreliable, or simply had divergent goals/methodologies. So I’ve given up on that pipe dream.

Now, I’d settle for dating someone that simply understood the whole deal. I’d love to have someone I could commiserate with about DOMS or dieting, bounce ideas off and just have that person really KNOW what I’m talking about instead of getting that glassy-eyed look and the spaced-out “Uh-huh”. Hell, we wouldn’t even have to go to the same gym, let alone at the same time or train together. Just as long as he understood where I am coming from and was headed in the same direction.

A girl can hope, right?