Shut Out the Noise

Lisbeth Barbell, Essays, Mindset

They wouldn’t stop talking.

Two young women chatting on the weightlifting platform next to me.

  • Someone was sad.
  • Someone had broken up.
  • Someone had issues with her co-workers.

It wasn’t that their issues weren’t important (all of our issues are important, right?) but that the gym was mostly empty, the music was low, and these two women had chosen the platform right next to me … and they kept talking.

I tried to concentrate on my deadlift warm-ups. Working up to a heavy set, I tried to tune them out. But they talked even through their own (light) squatting. I mean, they talked and it wasn’t so much positive energy talk. But I understood. (I had been a young woman once and I know how fragile hearts and egos are.)

I pulled 185 lbs x 3 and I learned about the failed relationship.

I pulled 215 x 3 and I learned how the co-workers weren’t bad people but they didn’t understand.

Finally, I approached my barbell for a single set of as many as possible at 80% of my 1 rep max. No time for screwing around now. Focus.

As I tightened my belt, the talk continued.

And it is was in this moment that I realized I only had a few choices:

  1. Turn and ask them to please be quiet during this lift.
  2. Lift and be annoyed at their talking during my lift. Blame my performance (whatever it was) on them.
  3. Or simply use this moment in front of me to practice tuning out distractions. See these young women and their chatting as a test of my concentration. Could I block them out during my deadlifts? Was my focus strong enough? What would happen? How good was I at doing what needed to be done? This talking was a gift if I viewed it as one.

I took a deep breath and pulled that 235 lb barbell from the floor. And all I heard was … nothing.

I only heard me pulling that barbell eight times. I’m sure those girls kept talking. I’m sure they used a bunch of verbs and nouns and adjectives at a healthy volume but I didn’t hear one word.

I only heard the bumpers kiss the floor and my breaths. Just me and the barbell. 8 times.

I put it down finally and stopped. Flopped back down on the bench. Their words entered my consciousness again. They had never stopped talking. I just smiled.

Pick the lesson. It’s always the better option.

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Lisbeth Barbell, Essays, Mindset


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