A Room Full Of Words…

The Mix

As a fitness trainer I’m fortunate to have such a variety of clients in my current rotation.  On a given week I will work on balance and flexibility with some silver haired folks.   I will aid clients my age who are interested in maximizing their functional fitness, that they live more active and more productive lives.  I will work with weight-loss clients who are trying to improve their overall health, appearance and confidence.  I will also work with a few prep athletes helping them with their strength and conditioning, and enabling them to perform better and stay injury free in their respective sports.

With such a variety in clients in a week’s time, my studio walls will also be witness to a variety of personalities and conversations.  The personalities are often strong, the conversations rarely dull, and I am richer for the discourse.  It works best when the client can talk and exercise at the same time, or restrict the conversation to the short breaks I allow in-between sets.  If the workout begins to take a back seat to the conversation, I just tap a bench with my finger tip, point to a weight, or look in the direction of a yoga mat and without interrupting the client, they will know to continue the workout.  They are all well-oiled machines.

Different Genders, Different Subjects

There are many subjects which get discussed in my studio each day.  Most men like to talk about seasonal sports.  As a sports fan I enjoy and look forward to these conversations.  I can actively contribute to them, even if I might disagree with the client’s stance or allegiance to a player or team.  Of all the sports conversations, football and golf tend to dominate.  That works for me since they are my two favorite sports.  Once football season is over, some sessions go completely silent for a while.  It’s like a black hole exists, post-football, where there is just nothing to talk about.  Then, a mass killing will take place somewhere, a tornado will toss a mid-western town down the highway a bit, or some senator will bag a 19 year old girl while his wife is in the next room, and the conversations start up again.

When football season is over Bill, age 69, and I have less to talk about. Then, I just mention Obama, and he pushes 135 pounds around in perfect form like it’s nothing…

Most women like to discuss shopping.  When the subject of shopping comes up, I’m more an active listener than participant.  Often times when shopping is discussed, I make lots of mental notes.  However, if the subject of shopping goes on too long, I listen to my client like my dog listens to me; I pretend to pay attention, but am more interested in the fly orbiting the half eaten orange on the other side of the room.  Still, I learn a lot during shopping discussions with my female clients, in a getting to know the enemy kind of way.

Food And Cancer

Of all the subjects which get discussed each week in my studio, two lead the way; food and cancer.

Cancer is discussed because it’s everywhere, all the time, and directly or indirectly affects everybody.  These are rarely bright conversations.  Discussing the cancer of friends, loved ones, and even the clients themselves can be heavy and a bit draining.  The positive aspect I try to retrieve from such conversations is to just be grateful for my own health and abilities on a given day.

Countless conversations of cancer have laid a solid groundwork in my psyche to help me prepare me for some variation of cancer which might afflict me some day.  Maybe it’s wrong to go through life with a it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when attitude.  However, daily discussions of cancer with clients through the years have placed me well into that state of thinking.

I find it interesting that whether they are 15 years old, or 89, all of my clients have brought up the subject of cancer at one time or another – all of them.

Food is the other topic which serves to nourish my day in conversation.  Though I make my living touting a healthy lifestyle, not all food discussions in my studio are about broccoli, grass-fed beef, and keeping processed foods minimal.  Yes, there is much discussed about healthy recipes, resources, tools, and motivation to eat well, and my studio is a great redistribution center for all healthy eating information.  There is much also much spoken of cheat days, where the best pizza places are, decadent desserts, and beyond.

In conversations of eating, I am a contributor to the healthy as well as the not-so-healthy of it all.  I sometimes feel myself cringe when I recommend Bronx Pizza to a weight-loss client, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it – Bronx Pizza is the bomb!  Moderation, I remind them, moderation.   Whether it’s on healthy eating, or the best dessert and martini combination in San Diego, food gets discussed literally ever hour in my studio.

I find it interesting that whether they are 15 years old, or 89, all of my clients have brought up the subject of food at one time or another – both healthy foods, and the not-so-healthy.

Though they gather more attention than all other topics combined, food and cancer are rarely spoken of together, or from the same root.  There is probably a connection there somewhere, and I may explore that connection in a future essay.

Conversations Over Crunches Redux

I once had a rule that no words be spoken in my gym unless they related to the workout itself; that if one is speaking, one can’t give supreme effort in an exercise, and I was all about supreme effort by my clients. I also had a rule about friendship with clients, or a lack thereof. As my client base has changed through the years, those rules have also changed, and conversation has become central to the experience.

I am blessed and wiser for these conversations over crunches. Since I still like to see strong effort by my clients, if the talking ever does get out of hand, I just increase the weights they are using and render them unable to speak. It’s good to be king.  Be well. rc


16 responses

  1. Cancer and food, has to be a connection; I’d bet the $2.67 in my pocket on that.

    Conversation is a gift as I see it. In almost every situation conversation has a place; an exception would be when in a foxhole 3 feet from the enemy. Conversation motivates, it engages, it allows us to sense whether the other is in the right state of mind which in turn allows us to change our approach if needed. My guess, conversation may not be the what your clients give you their money for, but, I bet they find it just as valued as the tactical service you provide.

    • Exactly Patrick. People come to workout, but we are all better for the conversations.

      This is from a previous essay about conversations:

      “As an exercise in creative dialogue, I have a question I sometimes put to friends or acquaintances as a means of generating intelligent discourse. I most often use this question at the dinner table, or as an icebreaker at social gatherings. However, this question generates the best results in dialogue, as something to expand on while running or hiking with others. The question is this;

      “Would you rather lose your vision, or lose your ability to speak and to hear?”

      With few exceptions, the answers to this question confirm that most would rather lose their voice and hearing than their vision. For all the times I have asked the question, I can only recall one person who would rather have their voice and hearing spared than their sight. I will never understand this.

      Though I do find my sight to be useful, I can’t imagine not having another audible conversation. It is speaking with and hearing others that better connects me to them, and reminds me I’m not emotionally alone in the world. To miss the inflection or the emotion in the voice of another, or to not be able to offer mine, lost only to sign language or some kind of an electronic medium, I would feel detached from the soul of others.”

  2. I like the social side of my fitness center! I’ve made a multitude of friends and connections over my years of membership.

    Sometimes the “organ recital” of the older members can be a bit tedious as they feel the need to discuss all their failing body parts and diseases and what doesn’t work too well. I’d rather focus on what I can do not on what I can’t or doesn’t work as well, but that’s just me.

    Cancer? Scares the crap out of me! Denial can be my best friend at times.

    Now you know, Roy, Chicago style pizza rules!

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