That isn’t a normal question. The obvious and immediate answer is yes. We are social creatures after all. It’s actually a great help for long term training consistency. We have the social aspect to re-enforce our actions and motivations. Most people get motivated by seeing somebody CRUSHING it. That hormonal reaction is a contagious byproduct that shouldn’t be taken away from the experience. And socializing provides that.
This might sting…
Now with THAT out of the way. There is a less obvious caveat to being social at the gym. There are all types of offenders at a gym. There are the heavy lifters who insist that their primal scream during a deadlift, is vital to their performance. It’s annoying and sometimes intimidating/ distracting but it’s better than pooping their pants. Fair enough.
Gyms don’t have to be libraries either. Someone screaming while lifting a heavy weight vs yammering on about parties, chicks, or cribbage on a sunday afternoon makes for an easy contrast.
You’re there for
the express reason of
getting the work done
Let’s go for the jugular.
The only time to talk about non related things you do, is in the lobby, the locker room, or before/after a group class. Conversation otherwise should consist of “ nice work man!”, “how many sets do you have left?” or maybe “can you spot me?”. Most other things can wait. You’re there for the express reason for getting the work done and everything else is a bonus, not the goal.
A golden rule of hard work is “if you can talk while you’re working out, you’re not working hard enough”. That might sting but probably because you deserve it. Don’t be a victim to crappy thoughts in the gym or waste words. You’re gym session should be one hour, more if you’re not a beginner If. Unless you have no life, that amount of time can’t be wasted. You may have noticed some people that put ear-buds in. You know what? They don’t want to talk. Those people are (usually) the ones to emulate.
Not so fast
You might argue that it’s not a big deal if you talk. It’s not hurting anyone. You’re right. Until you understand what a distraction costs, what a flow state means, or even what hard work really is. You might think that you don’t have a role to play in the gym world. But you would be wrong.
Maybe the gym you’re in, isn’t the gym for you (see how to choose a new gym). That’s OK. Perhaps you’re a seasoned gym goer and YOU go there as your social avenue. Great!. Are you on the rack, bench or machine that another is waiting for. Maybe YOU need to change. Maybe the pub is a better option for socializing.
If you MUST converse at a gym, join a group class or a team sport. That way you’re engaged with the task at hand. It’s best to not distract others and more importantly, yourself. You could argue that removing the conversation, removes the fun. You could be right. But your incessant jabbering might be leading the less confident to waste their time too. Especially in a group class!
If you have done a group class, generally at least ONE person does all the talking and none of the working. Not likely the instructor. Be the leader and work the hardest. If you do, you have no time to talk.
It’s a pretty sure shot that you will end up being the one with information worth listening to. If you’re not the talker of your group class, know that those people don’t generally last long (which is the antithesis of training in the first place). If it’s the entire class, that’s a big fat reg flag. Time for a new class.
Let your work do the talking
Be the humble warrior and soon, you will have something worth saying. Save it. The social capital of silence is more valuable than your two cents. Let your work do the talking and of course, experiment and get it wrong. Most importantly find the fun in the work. That, is how you play hard.