T Nation

Social Energy, Work and Gym Time

Social energy: For the purposes of this forum I’ll define it as the specific endurance required for an introvert to function in society.

Anyone ever dealt with anything like this:
You spend all of your workday wearing your happy face because you’re too pretty for homelessness. By the time work is up you want to, no NEED to hit the gym (not just for performance goals but for health) but the thought of seeing or conversing with another human makes you want to swallow a bullet. You’re not physically tired, just drained, irritated and distracted. Not that you dislike anyone at the gym, on the contrary, you’ve got great friends there but you cannot deal with people or their presence.

After years of trying the “suck it up buttercup / stop being a 1st world vagina” method I’m wondering if this is a common issue and if so how has anyone else dealt with it?

Headphones seem to be the most-recognized symbol for “leave me the fuck alone” in a gym.

“Sorry, I don’t have much time to chat today” has also worked well when I needed to evacuate myself from a conversation and get back to work.

I’ve also more-or-less ignored people and just focused on my lifts. People get the hint when you just kinda nod at them and focus on your set.

Also worth mentioning is that I’m on friendly terms with all of the regulars. We’re all there to work. We chat too sometimes, but not all the time. We all have anti-social days and nobody gets bent out of shape over someone having one.

Good crew.

1 Like

Thanks for the comments. It’s funny, You sound just like a good friend of mine and he carries it the exact same way (earbuds in and they ain’t comin out even if you’re Scarlett Johansson 1 foot away speaking directly to him in his face). I already do the earbuds and generally I can avoid most of the social stuff if I’m n a rush, it’s more just being around people that’s draining after work, not just speaking to them but just proximity… it’s screws up my focus. This has gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and in the last few years in worse shape.

Also my gyms have great crews. Excellent people. It really is me, not them…

Well I don’t have much help for you there. Maybe give bourbon a try.

Ha. Funny, my dad said the same thing…

Trying perfecting the " resting bitch face" works for me! Saves me from a lot of unwanted conversations. Maybe, time to think about a home gym.

I am right there with you. I am very introverted, while still needing the occasional interaction with folks that I feel VERY comfortable with…usually family and a small handful of others. Interaction is fatiguing and stressful…mentally and emotionally Fatiguing enough that it can carry over into the physical. I have learned to deal with it, over time. So, not quite at the bullet swallowing spot anymore.

In the gym, to the points above, I keep my earbuds in, And while I don’t have “resting bitch face”, my wife says that my normal look is one of intensity and seriousness. That, undoubtedly, carries over and is magnified in the gym, as I am very focused on what I am doing. That keeps 99% of the folks away. In fact, the only folks I ever converse with are the ones I had to ask for a spot, and the most extroverted guy in the gym. He is a great guy, which helps, but even he rarely comes up for idle chatter.

I, for one, don’t want to seem unapproachable, but would rather be the unsociable old guy than have my workout focus disjointed by interruptions. And I hate people I don’t know well watching me. Never liked the feel of being the center of attention.

I feel this way about going out to eat. How many forced conversations do I need to have to get some shitty chicken fingers?

Drinking definetly helps, but that’s not a good idea before lifting.

How is the drive from work, to the gym? Sometimes that can be really stressful, if you keep getting stuck at red-lights or whatever.

Can you take a more scenic route, and listen to some upbeat music you really like on the way? Or is there some way you could relax and get your head right before the gym?

Maybe get to the gym, then drag the sled around the building. Stop thinking, and start working. Once you get tired, its harder to be pissed.

Also, what is your lunch like? Maybe you’re just a little “cranky” because you are not fueled for action.

Total different outlook. I love the gym. The atmosphere, the noise, the camaraderie, all of it. Since I was young I’ve loved gyms. At the gym people speak my language and understand what I’m talking about when throwing out “goals”, “cycles”, “1 rep max”. Of course I have days when I feel like crap but I still look forward to the gym. I do have the ability to be blunt, too. No problem telling someone enough talk, lift now.

Appreciate the ideas guys but its not that Im being bothered by speaking to folks. The people at the places i work out around are cool and many are friends. I just dont want to be around people; period. Not just speaking but proximity to other humans is the problem and this is generally only after a workday. essentially the only REAL solution is a home gym and at the end of the day theres worse problems… Thanks folks!

That’s what I love about working out with mostly grown-ups in the 30-65 age bracket. “Quit yapping and finish your set” can be said, even barked, without any tears being shed.

Thats surprising. Ive found the 30 and up crowd to be the WORST offenders by far. The young dudes generally are in there either dicking around with their own circle of friends or doin work. Some of these older cats will tap your shoulder mid rep, try and start conversations while youre wearing earbuds etc… God help the women that try and workout , I saw a dude interrupt a woman MID-SPRINT on a treadmill to try in vain to get her digits.

I built a gym in my basement. Is that a possibility?

Are there any other gyms in town? Maybe a smaller, more serious place?

A little chit chat between sets is one thing, but what you’re describing is too much.

There are more great gyms than ever out there.

The home set up can be great, but I personally agree with Highland guy, I love the gym.

Hostile; not right now… if ever. it certainly wont be for the next few years. A buddy of mine made a basement set up, built his own squat stand, bench and power rack… its great. For some reason hes opposed to moving himself and his family out of his home and letting me have it… some friend…

Flats: I go to a commercial gym (free membership cuz I used to work there and help out on some of their computer issues) and another small place like you mentioned thats catered to athletes (EFS Gear, Monolift, Reverse Hyper, QUALITY bars and plates etc) and its the same thing: Dont get me wrong, its not that Im surrounded by chatterboxes, and like i said i have friends at both places, both are filled with great people. I just cant deal with being around ANYONE after work…

the more I type this out, the more it seems like a work and lifestyle problem, not a gym problem…

And that could be. A few years back, my job situation had gotten to a point where I was absolutely drained of mental/emotional energy and all patience, by the time I got off.
I was fortunate in that I had a home gym at the time. So, I could go in there, shut the door, crank the music and take it all out on the iron.
On none lifting days, once the kids were in bed, my wife would kill the lights, light some candles, put on Dark Side of the Moon and come curl up against me on the couch, while I killed a couple of beers. Little talk…just being, drifting and recovering.

Otherwise, I was a volatile mess.

1 Like

All the time. I started using my work-gym during lunch to get my main lifts done. On Saturday or Sunday I do strongman stuff at my “real” gym.

After dealing with idiots and/or boring people I work, the stupid conversations, the petty office politics, the fact that Im not challenged at all, etc I find myself wanting to knock people out when they talk to me. I also found that I wanted to shut down after work and nap. This lead to lots of missed workouts and a loss of passion for lifting.

Hitting the gym at lunch made it so my sessions were short, I had to focus, and it gave me a good mental break from sitting in front of the PC.

So to answer your question. Im usually introverted when I have to get things done and extroverted when I want to party.

1 Like

Littlestrick: That sounds like a nice little situation youve got goin on man…