It’s happened to everyone. You go to the gym and you’re doin’ your Stairmaster or your treadmill or whatever it is you do in the gym and you simply glance over at the person next to you. Now, whether you know this or not, a locking of the eyes is a sign, much like revving your engine when at a red light, and it says your looking for competition. From there on out there is no such thing as pacing yourself in your workout. You’re like two rams with their horns locked, but somebody has to give way before the other.
The weirdest part are the times when it doesn’t even start with the eye contact. Maybe it’s just me personally (but I doubt it is) but even looking at somebody else’s monitor brings out this dormant competitive spirit. What’s that, the chick next to me is doing 7.5 miles per hour on a level 8 incline? Well, clearly that means I have to do at least 8 miles on no less than a level 10 incline. I don’t know why it’s necessary, but a work out is almost more gratifying if you’re competing with the person next to you, kinda like how there’s gotta be somebody to take last place. I understand that someone has to lose… just as long as its not me.
Then there’s the joy of the other person noticing. Now, there are always 2 responses to this. The first, which is a pretty rare response, is that the other person sees what you’re doing and doesn’t really do anything, doesn’t react in anyway, and usually if they take this approach, they kinda give you a weird look, sorta like you’re a crazy person. The second response is an escalated one. Usually, the other person takes notice and retaliates. They either increase their speed and raise their level of incline or they take the longevity route where they wait for you to wear yourself down (which is totally the cheap way out but a path taken nonetheless). When the person increases their speed and such, it’s a double dare. You have to raise the stakes or you hafta walk away then and there. If you opt to raise the stakes, it tends to get pretty ridiculous. First you starting raising by a full mile per hour, then as you start to get up in the numbers it becomes halves until it eventually becomes elevation so slow that it’s hardly even noticeable to the human eye. Unfortunately by this point in the game, any increase is noticeable to you. Water is running low and you’re starting to hurt and I don’t mean in the “you’re pushing yourself but you can make it through” kinda way. I mean in the “a trip to the hospital is imminent” kinda way. That’s when the stakes don’t even matter anymore and you just want to be able to walk back to your apartment by the end of this.
By the end of this ridiculous and somewhat childish unspoken competition, it never even matters who walks away first. I know, it all started out about winning but usually, you’ve pushed yourself too hard and the triumph of winning no longer exists. All that’s left is the promise of compresses for your aching calves when you get back to your room. So in the end, no one really walks away a winner or a loser. If you’re still walking, eh, you’re a winner in my book.