There's a rhythm to what happens in a gym—the sporadic clanking of weights, occasional grunts and huffs that span the decibel range, intermittent chatter. All of it is performed to a soundtrack of old-school Muzak or rock thumping the din from a spin or exercise class in a nearby room.

Working out is largely a solitary affair. We go to the gym with a plan (or not), hop on a cardio machine, hide our ears beneath headphones, and claim our space. Or maybe we head to a mat for stretching. Some of us go straight to the weights. We do what we came to do then depart, with little acknowledgment of anyone else.

We often do the same thing on the job and maybe even at home. We get to work, do what we came to do. We go home, and aside from an occasional wave to a neighbor (or our significant other), we simply live our lives.

Ugh. Are we really squeezing all the benefits out of our workouts, our careers, and our lives if we don't make at least some effort to share our space with those with whom we interact every single day?

Of course we're not. So why don't we step out of our comfortable cocoons?

Risk, primarily. Fear.

We're afraid the guy across the room who's doing an exercise in a way that's causing more harm than good will snap at you for trying to help. Afraid the guy in the office who seems to have it all together will laugh at you for asking for advice. Afraid that your neighbor might want something, for goodness' sake.

Or afraid we may fail.

Well, I'm done with fear. I'm done because I know that each new interaction will help me grow, help me learn, help me live. Sure, there will be missteps, but the biggest misstep we can take is to take no step at all.

I'm too young for a cocoon, too excited about tomorrow to stand stagnant. There's too much more out there to learn and experience. Sure, offering a suggestion in the gym might prompt a smug retort.


If the guy in the big office won't give me a few minutes, so what?

And that neighbor? He might seem like a grouch, but perhaps he thought the same about me, and maybe, just maybe, he'll be there for me later when I need someone to check on my kids or watch my place while I'm gone.

In times like these it's easy to be paralyzed by fear. That may be OK if you're totally satisfied with where you are in life.

Are you?

Roy S. Johnson
Men's Fitness
Editor In Chief