Recognizing the Greatness that Surrounds You

Every week without fail, an elderly gentleman who attends my gym asks me, “You won’t get mad at me if I say you look marvelous?” I can’t tell if this is just his way of greeting me, or if he forgets he’s already used that line.

Either way, it brings a huge smile to my face no matter how often he says it.  Yesterday, he and I went through our routine of him telling me I look marvelous and me blushing. Then he says to me, “You’re embarrassing me over here lifting all that weight. You’re making me look bad.”

Funny thing is I aspire to be him one day. At 82, he is an avid gym-goer and competitive ballroom dancer. He travels to various places like Las Vegas to compete against dancers half his age. And he started only 2 years ago when his wife passed away.

I see him in the gym two to three times per week, depending on what time I go, and his workouts rival those of guys younger than me.  After his comment about how much weight I lift, I told him my goal is to lift as much weight as he does when I am in my eighties.

Oftentimes we get so caught up in what’s wrong with our gym atmosphere that we forget to notice all of the amazing feats of fitness we see in our daily lives. Perhaps your commercial gym doesn’t cater much to the Olympic lifters you love to admire on YouTube, but it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.

If you see someone in your gym going above and beyond the average workout, speak up. I don’t think half of us would lift as much as we do or reach the goals that we do had it not been for the kindness of strangers.

During the same session yesterday a guy was working out next to me whom I hadn’t seen before. He was moving a decent amount of weight, and performing heavy compounds like squats, deadlifts, and bench. Admittedly, he put himself through some brutal circuits, but to each his own.

Toward the end of his workout, he threw a full snatch over his head for 3 repetitions. It’s an amazing thing to see in person no matter when it happens, but this guy’s workout volume should have had him crawling to the locker room. So to throw a full snatch at the end of his session… completely mind-boggling.

I had to say something. I was blown away. Come to find out, he taught himself how to snatch from the ground by watching YouTube. By that point I don’t think I could have been any more impressed, but I was.

You can think of this blog post as reminder to pay it forward at the gym. As you continue your journey toward greater health, improved fitness, and that perfect physique, also takes note of those who are making great strides along their own fitness journeys. And, say something, will you?

A little compliment can carry a long way in the gym.

Here’s to an incredible start to what I believe will be your best year yet. I have a strong feeling 2012 will bring you great things.

To help you kick off the New Year right, here are a few articles that I read this morning and think you will enjoy…

Occupy Muscle Beach by Lou Schuler

My Personal Journey to Hell and Back by Jason Ferruggia

2011 Video Awards by Ben Bruno

10+ Ways to Rock 2012’s Face Off by Roger Lawson

10 Rules of Healthy Living by Adam Bornstein












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  • He is! He keeps me pushing harder, that’s for sure.

  • Thanks Kellie, too often we forget others and their accomplishments in the middle of our own. Your gym buddy sounds like an amazing person! Wish I could meet him myself. :)

  • I used to go to a World’s Gym like that in Florida. It had been around for years and the owner was a former powerlifter. They guys there had been members for a good 20 years. It was a great atmosphere and always so encouraging to see men twice my age lifting as heavy as the 20 year olds!

  • So glad to see such great encouragement, Cort!

  • Before I opened my own gym, I ran my Olympic lifting club out of a commercial gym – if you can believe that – for 5 years!

    It’s a small private place that has been around since the early 1940’s and is full of oldtimers who train every day, just like they always have. They were a great inspiration to me. The struggles we have in the moment in our fitness, the concerns over how much weight is on the bar, how fast our squats are going up, are temporary.

    What matters is that we keep going back, day after day, and have a great time in the process.

    Great article, Kellie!

  • I’m right there with you. I love to praise good lifts, good form, and beautiful bodies that are the product of hard work. Since we are in a college town we see new faces in the gym on a pretty regular basis. On Friday I saw a kid, home on break from college, doing perhaps the best front squats I have seen in there. And I told him so! Hopefully he wasn’t creeped out by the middle-aged woman paying him a compliment! I think the tendency in gyms is to be more competitive and not as supportive as we could be.

    I also think in this time of the “resolutioners” hitting the gym, it’s nice to at least share a welcoming smile. I was one of those once, it just happened to be in May and not January.

    Great post!

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