Saving Private Cohen…

Frick; There Really Is An Out-There Out There

I recently relocated my little fitness studio (again) to a larger, more open, and brighter space than the warehouse location it previously occupied.  My little gym would look less like a dungeon.  My upscale clients, I reckon, deserve something a little more, upscale…? 

After my friend Glenn and I moved the equipment, the new place took shape quickly.  I spent a majority of that weekend getting everything set up, lined up, and put into the best possible place.  At the end of it all would come a treat for me; my first workout in my new gym. 

I just was about begin my first workout when I realized what made the new place so bright, so open, and so professional looking – we can refer to them as windows.  My two prior locations had few windows, and those windows were well covered.  Glass now; everywhere glass – masses of transparent enclosure.  The entire front of the new studio is a 30-foot wall of glass eight feet high – and located just off one of the busier streets in Fallbrook.  My community could now see me workout.  And then, depression set in…

Hide In Your Shell

For the past 8 years, alone with my thoughts and with little view to the outside world, I have been able to lift, reach, bend, stretch, peddle, stair-step, run, and sweat in absolute privacy.  Often I workout listening to classic works of literature, philosophy, or theology on my i-Pod, attempting to make double use of my workout time, that I sharpen my brain (a bit) as well as my body.

I have savored every moment of these workouts in solitude because I am neither a social nor a confident person – at least not when I exercise.  In fact, I’m quite shy about it and a bit anti-social.  As I made the transition from exercising in a public gym to working out in my own private gym, my workouts took on a whole me meaning.  The intensity increased, the results were better, and my workouts became more soulful and more fulfilling – they became religious.

I have enjoyed the act of exercise – the ritual of movement, since I was 13-years old.  Despite what I have accomplished with my physicality through the years, and the thousands of workouts which have enabled so much in my life, the gym has always been an intimidating place – a place where I have felt uncomfortable, felt scrutinized, and perpetually un-good in the eyes of others.  

The Gyms Of My Past

Between the acne covered, puffy bodybuilders wearing torn Tap Out tank-tops and wrap-around sunglasses indoors, and the 20-something tanning bed queens with the tramp-stamps which make them easier to ID to the previous, I have not felt too comfortable in gyms since the fitness explosion of the mid-80s, through the current day.  Add-in the scarcely exercising, excessively judgmental religious zealots whose voices seem to dominate the cardio theater in most gyms, as their actions don’t, and then sprinkle in a few of know-it-all gym members who believe they know more about exercise than anyone in the gym – including me, and the modern gym has offered me little in the ways of comfort or acceptance – despite that I am usually among the hardest working, more knowledgeable, and most in-shape persons in the gym. 

Or perhaps I have just alienated myself in the gym simply because my workout has always been a medium for getting better acquainted with myself; a vehicle for contemplation and personal improvement, not a forum to overwhelm or impose upon those around me.

Saving Private Cohen

Now in a more pedestrian location, people soon began to peak through the windows of my new studio and watch as I have worked out during my down time. Some would dare to come in and want to talk talk talk talk talk with me.  Kill me. 

Within a week I had most of the glass in my new studio blacked out.  Not tinted, but blacked out – to shoulder level.  This would allow some light in, but ensure privacy for my clients – especially for my favorite client, me.  Once again I am at home in my private sanctuary of sweat, and again able to better honor myself and my day in peace, and without subjection to pedestrians or curious intruders who wonder in from the parking lot to checkout my kinetic tomfoolery.

I recognize that most fitness enthusiasts do not have this luxury – a private gym in which to battle gravity and to release the toxins of life, as physical and mental acuity have a chance to blossom – if only for an hour.  I will suggest that if a private workout is something which sounds appealing, for the price of a year’s gym membership, one can buy enough adequate and compact equipment which can make a private a workout at home possible – regardless of how small your workout space at home might be.

Do I recognize and appreciate the social aspect of working out in a public gym…?  Maybe…  I just know that private workouts, for me, are now a requirement – daily.  Be well. rc


The “Queen” of the fleet was quite a gal….

Finally, I would like to extend my respect and appreciation for all of those who have served on The United States Coast Guard Cutter Acushent, which will become decommissioned today after 67 years of service.   There is not a day of my life, not one, that I do think about my time spent on that ship. 

Oh, and there is this emotional masterpiece by Leonard Cohen.  Enjoy…

7 responses

  1. I wonder why so often we choose to look at ourselves through the eyes of the wrong people. I am guilty of that too.
    Maybe we need to learn to see ourselves through the eyes of those who know how to find beauty (see your previous post) and ignore the judgmental ones.
    If it were only this easy.

  2. This is a wonderful insight into what a good workout is really about: intense absorption, making the most of a sacred time.

    “…for the price of a year’s gym membership, one can buy enough adequate and compact equipment which can make a private a workout at home possible…”

    This took me all of about 6 months to figure out. And now that I seem to be on the road much of the time (or at least not at any home locale for long), transportable equipment is a priority and gym memberships ridiculous.

  3. “A medium to get better acquainted with myself” THAT right there is worth a MILLION dollars. For me, my art and my writing is perfectly described in which YOU describe your workouts. My mental workouts.

    Some are more comfortable in “exercising” their bodies while if like me it is in “exercising” my thoughts..push my thoughts of what I think of myself to new bounds.

    A private workout sounds the MOST appealing to me…but there IS the need for the social when exercise is NOT something you know, if only to have someone to share their perspective of the WHY’s and the gifts that movement can give you…


  4. Interesting because I never feel the gym is a place for social connections. I must be daft. I don’t want anyone chatting or talking to me when I’m working out. Can’t they see I’m working here? Jaysus! Apparently I’m anti-social as well because I love doing my running alone. Great post.

  5. I work out when I do specifically to have as few people around as possible. Although I love sharing the healthy & fit life, I rather do that away from my workouts. The gym to me is for working out & working out hard… mind muscle link & not about chatting & visiting. I like to focus on strengthening my bod & soul alone…

  6. It’s interesting… at one point, I loved the public gym workouts. Nowadays I prefer to exercise alone at home. I guess there are different forms of self-empowerment in that, too.

    Windows make such a difference to the atmosphere of a place. They’re calming, I find.

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