This post is not about being a wanker, it’s about being okay with random people on the street thinking you are one.
I was at Central Station in Sydney. I had just finished an all day coaching session and had 20 minutes to wait for my train. I realized that while being in Sydney for the workshop, I hadn’t worked out in a few days. “Why don’t I just do some pushups right here?” I thought.
It was pretty busy:
“Hmmm…nah…that will look weird” says the safe, sensible part of my brain; the part that’s supposed to stop me from acting on every impulse. “You’re just some guy dressed like a metal head with no shoes on doing pushups at the train station. And you’re wearing glasses. That will look mega unusual.”
Then of course the Social Freedom voice says “Come on…what’s the big deal? I thought you were a Social Freedom coach? You make your students push their comfort zone all the time and you can’t even do some pushups right now?”
“Nah I just don’t feel like it…not here. I’ll just wait till I’m home…”
“But you’re going straight to a party when you get home. You have 20 minutes right now. Why do you even care? You don’t know any of these people here. You don’t even live in this city!”
“Yeah but…it will be uncomfortable…”
“So what? In 6 months, will you care that you endured a few minutes of discomfort? Or will you be happy you stuck to your exercise goals?”
I continue to argue with myself (this whole though process lasts less than 15 seconds) and then I decide to go take a piss and do it when I get back.
I come back from the toilet, shaking and slightly nervous, empty my pockets in front of me, get on the floor and start doing pushups.
As soon as I begin, I hear “YOU FUCKIN’ WANKER!” booming across the platform in a loud English accent. I look over and see two blonde British girls yelling at me. “Show off! Tough guy! Go on, do some more pushups!” they yell.
They looked like British party girls, kinda like this:
I slowly stand up, take a breath and say “Looks like I have a cheer squad. You have to count them out for me.”
“Let me hear you count.”
“Just start doing the fucking pushups!”
“I wanna hear you count first!” I say firmly. She complies, and as they count one, I drop and begin to hammer out 20 pushups.
“Now do berrhpiessz!”
“What the fuck’s that?”
“Ya don’t know what a fuckin’ burpie is?”
“No” I say, giving her a cold stare. “Show me.” I challenge her.
She hesitates. “Come on!” I yell, and she drops and shows me a pushup mixed with a star jump.
I do my 20, and then 20 more pushups. They continue to yell at me with a mixture of encouragement and insults.
“More! Harder! FASTER! YOU SUCK!” Their tone was still very confrontational and aggressive.
Their train arrives and I’m left on my platform with everyone who witnessed this exchange. What to do now? I feel like I should stop, because I don’t have my cheer squad anymore. Fuck that. My priority is my workout. I start doing sit-ups.
It gets weirder when I’m resting between sets and some mid 30s guy comes and waits for his train near me. Starting that set again was hard, because I was aware that since he didn’t witness the initial exchange, from his point of view there is a dude sitting on the platform in front of him who randomly decides to start doing pushups at his feet.
It got even weirder when I opened my eyes during a sit up set and made eye contact with some shy Asian student who was standing in my line of site, a meter away. It seemed very sexual and creepy because I was on the ground and panting. Oh well, her fault for standing near the weird guy at the station.
Hard to concentrate on sit-ups when you’re making eye contact…
The times between the sets were the hardest because I was acutely aware that everyone on all of the closest platforms was watching me. I had to just crouch there panting and pretend like I didn’t notice.
I got on the train feeling much better, so glad that I had worked out my chest and arms and even gladder that I hadn’t let the people at the station stop me from working out. If I didn’t work out it would have felt like they were all controlling me, preventing me from working out.
The reality is that it’s not them stopping me from doing it, it’s MY fear of what they think of me that is really stopping me.
As I walked through the train, a gang of rough looking kids were standing on the stairs
You know the type:
They quickly moved out of the way as I walked towards them. Maybe they were genuinely polite people and I’m judging by appearances, but it seemed that they saw the manic craziness in my eyes, induced by the physical exertion and comfort zone plunge I had just taken and didn’t want any trouble.
I decided to take it to the next level and do pull-ups on the train bars. I came up to a carriage where some cyclists had their bikes across the doors. They got up to move them and I said “Don’t worry…I’ll just climb over. Hold this.” I handed them my drink bottle and gripped the bars running along the roof, pulling myself over the bikes.
“Wow. That was fun. I think I’m gonna do some more pull-ups right here” I informed the cyclists. I could instantly see that they thought I was drunk or on drugs.
“You been at a music festival today?” they asked me, sniggering to each other.
“Nah. Just been at work” I panted while doing pull ups. I kept chatting to them and we were joking about how the balance handles look like sex toys. The breaks between my sets were mega awkward, with friendly enough conversation clouded by the fact that they thought I was crazy.
They kept muttering to each other and giggling, as if I couldn’t hear them, unaware that I was fully sober. I didn’t mind. As long as I got to do my workout I was happy.
I felt great getting off the train. Doing pushups in public may not be that far outside social reality, I’m sure plenty of groups of boys do pushups in public when they’re mucking around. The difference mentally for me was that I was by myself. If I have a friend there the context is ‘guys being guys and showing off/causing a scene’, which puts me in the badboy/rebel mode and is fun. But me being by myself just makes me looked like a whacked out druggie or socially retarded psycho, or someone stupid enough to think public pushups are impressive to others. The question I ask myself is “AM I a whacked out druggie? No. AM I socially retarded pyscho? No. AM I doing this to impress strangers? No. So even if some random people in a different city think that, it doesn’t make it true. I know myself better than their perception of me.”