For This Gay Man, the Gym Has Often Been the Most Terrifying Place in the World


Nicholas Snow in a recent self-portrait.

Every time I go to a gym I am recovering from horrific childhood bullying and verbal gay bashing that went on for a decade.

I am taking contrary action to be in an environment that is filled with emotional triggers. Just walking in the door is an exercise in self-love and self-acceptance, and the gym is now a place of healing and reclamation.

I am happy that my motivation for going to the gym is to be my best and most-healthy self, and not an effort to measure up to someone else's ideas of how I should look or be. My time on the LifeStepper is actually a meditation for me, and I find some of my most exciting ideas come to me during my cardio workouts.

I used to shy away from guys I found attractive because I would come up with all sorts of reasons to disqualify them from my life (reasons "I'm not good enough" for them). Now I focus on being my authentic self, open and friendly, approaching and approachable.

I have applied this intent to my life in general, and I find wherever I go (in the Palm Springs area) I bump into people I know, who know me authentically. I have gotten out from behind my phone, computer, and time and soul-sucking apps and websites, and I am a part of life, and the living.

My emotional healing is also manifested in the locker room. I don't judge myself. I don't judge others. I am simply present, and sometimes naked.

I found one person at the gym so attractive it took me a year to say, "hello" when we happened to be on side by side machines. It took another year to have a conversation with him. I ended up having a couple of real dates with him (the old fashioned kind where you get to know each other). Now we are friends. I shouldn't have been afraid of him to begin with.

I have taken this life experience as a sign to risk, reach out, be open.

Yesterday I saw a younger, gorgeous guy (and one of the most fit I've seen at the gym) for the first time. Unintentionally, we ended up in the communal shower at the same time, I said "hello," and we had a nice conversation. Naked of course. Before I left the gym, I gave him my number.

I saw him again today. It turns out, I'm 20 years too young for him. I lack white hair and I am not in my 70's! (His words. He's probably in his 30's.)

I said with a smile, "I'll see you in 20 years." I went on with my workout.

We ended up ready to leave the gym at the same time. He gave me a hug.

So now I am on hugging terms with someone I didn't even know yesterday, and I met him at a place which has been historically terrifying for me. It's not a love connection, but it's a loving connection.

The morals of the story?

Life is ongoing.

We are all works (of art) in progress.

Connection happens when we let it.

We are all beautiful (even when naked) to someone, somewhere.

There's someone for everyone.

Be you.

Be free.

Live now.

Start now.

...Nicholas Snow

Originally posted to my Facebook page, January 20th, 2016, at 3:23 p.m.