I nervously follow my guide past the cardio jungle into bro territory. The land where men outnumber women 2:1, and their mating calls consist of grunts and heavy breathing. Watch your step or you may interfere with someone’s ritual.
Welcome to the weight room.
It is intimidating to say the least. My guide knows everyone here, and they speak a foreign language, rattling off the amounts they can lift, talking about mutual acquaintances, or the rager on Saturday. I stand awkwardly in the corner, it seems like no one speaks “twig-person” dialect here.
After several visits with my guide, I am starting to learn the ways of the jungle. The animals here are nice, as long as you give everyone their personal space. Sharing is caring when it comes to the squat rack. “Can I work in with you?” is a phrase commonly heard. I am picking up the lingo slowly.
The most important lesson I have learned is this: Most people aren’t judging you. The animals smell fear. Walk with confidence and don’t bite off more than you can chew. When in doubt, ask someone how to use the equipment. The reigning staff would rather help you than have to save you from a quagmire of quicksand later.
I am still low on the totem pole when it comes to stats. But yesterday I was able to squat with the bar and that is improvement in itself. On a previous visit I struggled to lift the 40 lb bar onto my shoulders.
With knowledge and confidence, you can learn to conquer the jungle.