This week I initiated a conversation with a stranger at the gym while using the high row machine. There was an another man sitting across from me on the leg extension, who I’ve see regularly. This is an older man who’s walking around with solid mass and a well-rounded physique; someone who you could tell has dedicated themselves to the gym decades ago and has kept themselves consistent. While doing my exercise, I noticed a few glances from the man and decided to strike up a conversation between sets. Once I had finished my set, I got up, gave him a greeting and asked if he could critique my form – to which he agreed. The man watched me throughout my next set and pointed out the I’m turning my head to look into the mirror to the left. He further explained that I should avoid doing so and look head-on to avoid any strains or injuries. Once the set was over he further commented that my form was correct and that I’m doing my reps with full range of motion, adding in some words of encouragement. I thanked him for the advice and continued our conversation. From here we introduced each ourselves and made small talk, conversating about how long he’s been working out and such, then went our separate ways to continue out routines.
The interaction was pleasant and felt incredibly genuine. It was apparent that the man was passionate about bodybuilding and was excited to share his knowledge. Throughout the brief conversation you could really get a sense of his personality and I appreciated the constructive criticism. Compared to online interactions, it definitely felt like I was making a genuine connection with random individual; while through social media and video games random interactions feel surface level. Of course context matters; in a multiplayer video game you’re not trying to get to know your teammates, rather you’re attempting to effectively communicate and coordinate – or banter. Being that these interactions are anonymous, there’s less of the genuineness and connection yet they tend to be more direct. To contrast this, often times I find myself playing cooperative games with friends, using Discord to communicate. In these situations, I would argue that these online interactions don’t differ from face-to-face ones as we’re all close friends and the conversations are no different than those we have when we’re all getting together.