The Space You Occupy For Others

“You could have been anywhere else in the world right now, but you’re here with me.” Jay-Z

The best hour of their day. That is a common refrain for fitness coaches. We know that most people’s lives start with an alarm, are filled with responsibilities, and have few moments for self care and play. We know that when our members get their hour in the gym, it is a time when they don’t have to answer emails from their boss, make sure their kids are where they’re supposed to be, or worry about the size of their next bill. When a fitness class starts, it is a group of people who will be tackling a physical task with camaraderie. At the end of the workout, people will embrace physically to celebrate their shared experience and revel in the completion of their task. It is such a privilege to be a steward of this space.

I have noted on a number of occasions my transition from an office job to coaching fitness as a positive move towards a more fulfilling life. There are certainly a number of factors that contribute to why this change has been so fulfilling: I love physically training; I love learning about different methodologies of training; I love helping people; and I love seeing the progress and change in people’s lives. However, the part of my job that I think I find most fulfilling is the emotional space that I get to be a part of others’ lives. 

As I said to begin with, the gym is a place of refuge for many people I have the privilege to work with. Though they may start their day uncertain of how their commute, work, or meetings will go, they know that they can look forward to that satisfying hour at the gym–that hour where they will get a physical release from strenuous activity and a social bond from the fellowship of their classmates. It is my job to make sure that experience is consistent and open to all. I need to make the newest member of the gym feel welcomed into the community and safe in the physical pursuit. I need to make the experienced member feel engaged in the community and physically challenged to a new level. I need to make sure the fitness theory and methodology is explained, I need to make sure the class is organized, and I need to make sure it’s fun. I need to hype people up, I need to make sure the music is right, and I need to have my own personal style. My members could be members at any other gym in the area, but they’re with me and I need to honor that. It is such a privileged position. I feel honored to hold such a position in the lives of the people that I see on a daily basis. 

For any fitness coach to really make a connection with people, that connection has to take deeper roots than shere physical training. You must get to know the person, who they are, what motivates them, and what they truly enjoy. I love that I get to see people progress not only in the gym, but be a part of their journey through life–getting new jobs, finding a life partner, starting a family. I may not be a pivotal or central figure in all or any of these people’s lives, but I am a presence in something that they choose to do repeatedly over time. For many, the only thing they will do more consistently and longer than going to the gym is going to work, and they get paid to do that.   

For anyone who pursues fitness, the benefits carry well outside of the gym’s walls. Similarly, what my responsibility as a steward of this space has taught me is to be mindful of the space that I occupy in the minds of others in any of life’s endeavors. For anyone you interact with, you can choose what you bring to the table. Are you someone who brings complaints or solutions? Do you bring gossip or information? Are you interacting or speaking? Bringing positivity or negativity? Love or hate? We all have a choice in what we will bring to our shared spaces. The responsibility of caring for special place for others has taught me that I can bring a positive contribution or not. I am in no way perfect at carrying this example to the other aspects of my life, but I have been taught the lesson. I can now be more mindful of the space I occupy for others.