They were also doing their squats wrong. I wanted to tell them, I really did. But then I thought to myself, “Nah, with manners like that, you’d survive that back injury just fine.”
Decked out in my usual gym garb, I made a beeline for my usual squat rack. Halfway through my set, two girls approached me, claiming that I was using their squat rack and that I should move aside.
Tired, out of breath and significantly taller than the Lululemon twins, I suggested they use the empty squat rack on the left. It was identical in every way, with the bar height suited for their 1.5m stature.
Instead, the taller in bubblegum pink spandex started a hissy fit that made her two pigtails fly about angrily in the air as she shrugged her shoulders and scrunched her face into a look no person with Asian features should attempt. I tried hard not to laugh.
She mouthed a long stream of profanity but eventually followed her friend to the other bar.
Toward the end of my set, I was cooling down along the empty aisle behind the squat racks, when I accidentally bumped into bubblegum. She angrily dug her elbow into my right ribs, claiming that I had no right to ‘occupy her space’.
At this juncture, I got irritated and asked her “Hi, if you have a problem please tell it to my face.” She looked angrily back at me and kept repeating the words “I have a problem” without actually telling me the actual problem. Her friend intervened, reiterating the issue being that I ignored ‘gym etiquette’ and stubbornly occupied ‘their bar’.
Exhausted and thoroughly winded (you try doing HIIT Squats and Sumo Deadlifts in one go!), I just didn’t see the point of forcing a square peg in a round hole by insisting that the other bar was empty and more suited for their height. Instead, I just smiled and said my apologies to the friend, and finished the rest of my workout.
I felt proud of myself because if this was me a couple of years ago, I would’ve yelled back at Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee, insinuating a ‘whose-balls-are-bigger’ fight. I would’ve also taken everything they said personally, making this issue bigger than it actually is.
Because this issue is simple, and the bottom line is this: These girls are small-minded people who took every issue as a personal attack. Without actually knowing my intention of asking them to use the other bar, they blithely assumed that it was out of ill-will and personal gain, and proceeded to form their own conclusion about the situation.
It took me a long time to understand that when people act out, it’s a reflection of themselves, not me. I feel proud for not sinking to their level and controlling the way I reacted.
The words of Dr Lisa Cuddy come to mind right about now:
“Taking sides? No, this isn’t high school. You write another article! And when you’re sitting behind a big fancy desk and someone from John Hopkins calls and asks ‘We’re thinking about hiring Eric Foreman as our Chief of Neurology, what do you think?’. Then, you can say whatever the hell you want.”