Gossip, intrigue, power plays and morality plays: From the small stuff to the life-and-death stuff (sometimes literally), gyms are a microcosm of life. Add all the hormones, endorphins, sweat and fatigue from a good workout and you’ve got a recipe for the best reality show ever – seriously, why has no one ever done a gym reality show?! – or for some serious gym drama. Love it or hate it, the reality is that because we’re all flawed human beings, we’re all going to run into it sometimes. Some of us more than others. Ahem.
Over the years I’ve got more than a few e-mails from readers asking about whether or not the Gym Buddies and I ever have any drama and how I deal with it so it doesn’t ruin my workout (and life) mojo. The answer to the first question is easy: we’re a group of women who spend a lot of time with each other so of course drama ensues sometimes. Occasionally it’s among us, more often it’s part of the larger gym culture – but in either circumstance I’d be a jerk to write about it on here. I learned the hard way years ago that that is a line I do not cross. (And don’t go looking for that post, it was pulled and deleted the day after it went live and the crapstorm erupted.) The only people that intentionally get humiliated on this blog are me, myself and I. And the occasional Kardashian.
The answer to the second question is harder. If you attend a gym, are part of a running club or exercise anywhere other than alone in your basement, it’s going to happen. It’s a part of life, albeit one about as pleasant as the first poop after a day of eating beet salad. (If you’ve never seen beet poop, you’ve got to try it. It’s something everyone needs to experience at least once, just so they can say they did it. You know, like bungee jumping. Except gorier. And out your butt.)
So how do you deal? Here are a few things I’ve learned and I hope you’ll add many more in the comments!
Do: Apologize immediately and sincerely. Whether it’s from someone upset about a “stolen” spot or a more serious misunderstanding, when people’s feelings get hurt I’ve found the best thing to do is just to own your part in it. Admit that you made a mistake and apologize. If you can do anything to remedy the situation, do so. And then leave it alone. Drama goes to DRAMA when it keeps getting dredged back up.
Don’t: Gossip. Anyone who knows me knows this one is so hard for me. I love people! I love people’s stories! I want to be a part of all the stories! And I love hearing about their lives – especially the juicy parts! But there’s a fine line between caring about someone and wanting to help them and just spreading the muck around because it’s way more interesting than the 300 rounds of Elmo Uno that take up the rest of my day. How do you find that line? Ask yourself if you’d say it if that person were present. (Sadly for me, sometimes I forget to ask myself this until after I’ve said it. Doesn’t work so well that way.)
Do: Turn on the humor. A little laughter can go a long way, particularly if it’s at your own expense. People understand that everyone screws up, sometimes they just need to be reminded of that.
Don’t: Get it in writing. Sweaty back prints on the weight bench come and go but texts, emails, Facebook and nasty notes last forever. (The only exception to this is when you write ghost notes in the steam on the mirrors. That goes away but it also comes back when the mirror refogs. Use this to your advantage and start writing fortune-cookie messages!)
Do: Plug your earphones in and tune everyone else out. Gym drama (or sometimes “girl drama” although in my experience both genders are equally susceptible) is one of the reasons I hear most often for why people don’t like going to the gym. Some people circumvent the whole thing by getting in, doing their workout and getting out – no socializing allowed. To make this really effective, pop in your earbuds. While this works for some people, for many of us the social part is what makes the gym fun. But sometimes if you’re in the midst of some hardcore dramz the best thing to do is lay low and let it blow over. If you get to finally listen to that audio book you downloaded last year then so much the better!
Don’t: Quit your workouts. Sadly I’ve seen some people stop coming to the gym all together over some type of drama. Having done my fair share of bawling my eyes out in the Y parking lot, I know the temptation. But the one certainty of life is that it never stays the same and this too shall pass, probably faster than you think.
Do: Forgive. Whether you are the wronged party or the person who did the wrong-ing (that makes total sense, right?) or both, forgiving the other people and yourself is both healing and freeing. Try giving people the benefit of the doubt – even if you believe the best about someone and it turns out not to be true, they may be inspired by your faith in them to live up to your expectations the next time. Or they may think you’re a fool but better to be a happy fool than a sad cynic, right? It can be tough but carrying a grudge is heavy weight-lifting in a way that will definitely not improve your health!
So, I feel kinda weird giving advice like this – it makes me sound like I’m an expert in this and while I am a bona fide expert in sticking my foot in my mouth, I’m definitely not the authority on extricating it. Help me and your fellow readers out by sharing your stories and suggestions! Have you ever been caught up in some serious drama? How do you deal with it?