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A Sense of Belonging

Updated: Apr 1, 2019

A recent incident at the gym where two young boys tried to intimidate me and the regulars all rallied round to support me, left me reflecting on the whole notion of family and a sense of belonging. Let me explain but first I need to set the scene...


My gym is a funny place, it’s a cardio gym. It’s full of the most modern spinning bikes, skiing, running, climbing etc machines but the weights room is hugely neglected. The management neither updates, maintains or even cleans it. The mirrors are dirty and cracked, the rubber on the weights are falling off, bars and clips are strewn all over the place and in a state of general disrepair. It’s tucked away in the corner of the building and only accessible via a link over the car park and down a dingy stairwell. It doesn’t even have heating!!!!! Most cardio bunnies don’t even know of it’s existence (nor do they care to). So the regulars who come to use the weights room have a kind of bond, almost like a band of outcasts. It’s a bit like high school where the popular kids were jocks and cheerleaders (at least that’s what my high school in Canada was like) and the chess, computer and maths club kids were the geeks (btw I was a chess champion in my school- I am always part of the ‘outcast’ gang). These regulars are a wide and diverse bunch, people I would not have likely met in my usual sphere. There is a huge tattooed biker dude who comes to the gym on his Harley, come rain, shine or snow, looks very, very scary but is the gentlest soul I have ever met. We often sit during our breaks between lifts and talk about his joy of being a new dad. Then there is the most beautifully chiselled lawyer who most people feel intimidated to talk to due to his beautifulness, but if you do, you realise that he is just as vulnerable and insecure as the rest of us. The bespectacled 6’3 Nigerian student who squats so gracefully that I can watch him squatting for ages but not in a creepy cougary way! The supremely pungent and obese night club bouncer who only bench presses on the smith machine because his ‘back can’t hack it no-more’, the super strong Turkish lifter who does so many bizarre glute exercises that puts Brett Contreras to shame, is just to name a few. Then there is me, a tiny middle aged Asian woman who is affectionately know by the others as ‘Mrs Polly pocket’ and the resident agony aunt. This is my Gym family, moral of the story? Well no moral really but just that some families you get into by default (love ‘em or hate ‘em, you are stuck with ‘em) and then there are others where a space at the table has to be earned. I have earned my right into this Gym family by being here for 5 days a week, every week for years and with that comes the support and loyalty that it affords. And this was really evident to me last week.

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