What Happens When You're Obsessed With The Gym And Can't Make Time To Date

by Sheena Sharma
Danil Nevsky

I love the gym. No, I don't think you understand: I'm in love with the gym. It's my low-key soulmate. I'm also in love with love, but lately, I think I've been in love with the gym more.

You know how I know this? Because the old me used to schedule the rest of her life around men. Living meant loving someone. But the new me is all about doing things I really enjoy doing and about letting dating take a backseat to the rest of my life.

I've been a gym rat for about three years now. It quells my anxiety, helps me sleep and, honestly, it's just my "me" time. No one can tell me what to do at the gym or how to do it. For one hour a day, a few days a week, I lose myself in the rhythm of too-loud music and the lifting of five-pound dumbbells.

The problem, I've realized, is that I love the gym a little too much -- to the point where it interferes with my romantic life (or lack thereof). I don't really have much of a romantic life. If I'm not at work, I'm hanging out with my friends, and if I'm not hanging out with my friends, I'm at the gym. So when, I ask, is a gal like me supposed to make time to date?

Let me walk you through my typical day. My alarm rings at 7:30 am. I schlep out of bed, get ready and head to my nine-to-five job. TBH, I'd love to squeeze in a workout before I head to work, but I've never been a morning person (to all the morning people out there, I don't get you). Plus, since I do value exercising as much as I do, I don't want to have to squeeze it in (who'd want to have to squeeze in something they love to do?). I have way more time to devote to the gym in the evening hours. My work schedule has turned me into an evening workout person, and I'm okay with that.

After work, I head straight to the gym, where I stay for an hour. Then it's time to hop on the subway and head back to my uptown apartment. By the time I get home, it's 7:30 pm, and I'm pretty tired.

A couple of days ago, someone was trying to throw a wrench in my routine. I'd just started seeing this guy, a friend whom a friend set me up with. We'd gone on two dates and we were in the midst of planning our third when he asked what I was doing one Tuesday after work. Incidentally, that Tuesday, I had a gym class called "Burn." It's a ton of fun. It's practically the highlight of my week. I always know I'm going to walk in, set some ~Burn~ goals for myself, and walk out feeling like a f*cking BAMF. It's one of the only things in my life I can count on. "Burn" won't let me down.

Because I didn't want to skip out on this sacred time of my week, I asked this guy if he'd be able to hang out on a weekend instead. Weekends were out for him, though, because he works in the restaurant industry.

So I had two choices: I could skip BURN and hang with him, or I could go to BURN and ditch the date.

But I couldn't not go to the gym after work. I have a f*ck-ton of mental sh*t I need to work through. Punching the air keeps me sane, not making small talk with some dude I hardly know.

If it were a girlfriend asking to shoot the sh*t? That's a completely different story. You know your girlfriends. You trust your girlfriends. You can vent to them about how horrible your period cramps are or how much of a bitch your boss has been lately, and it's completely therapeutic.

With a date, though, you censor yourself. You can't go full-blown "you" on him, because you'd probably scare the poor guy off.

But back to Guy vs. Gym: Wouldn't going to the gym mean I love myself? Isn't that what "love yourself" is supposed to mean -- doing things that unequivocally make you feel good? A date wouldn't necessarily make me feel good. It'd have to be pretty damn stellar to do that.

Completely unsure of whether the decision I was leaning towards was in my best interest, I decided to post a Facebook status posing my question to the world:

As you can see, there were a ton of mixed opinions. But I'll break it down for you: The fellow gym rats supported my decision to flake on the date, while everyone else told me I was selfish, a bitch, or just plain wrong for choosing the gym.

Now, I know what you're going to say: It doesn't have to be like that! Life is about finding balance! You can go to the gym and THEN go on your date, or go on the date and go to the gym the next day! But what if there's nothing about either of those options that seems 'balanced' to me? What if I'm usually done at the gym around 7, and by that time, it's been a solid 12-hour day, and all I want to do is go home, light some candles and masturbate because I'm done with the world? What if doing anything else feels like pushing myself, and I just don't want to burn out?

I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here. Let's say I did choose the date over the gym. Let's say it didn't go well, or it went decently, but I don't plan on giving him a second chance. Not only would I be spending the following hours beating myself up for not going to 'Burn'; my decision would set a precedent for how I handle future dates.

In other words, how would I justify seeing this guy but not future first dates? What if I got to a point in my life where there are three guys and all of them want to take me out? Who would I choose to go out with over the gym, and why? What would give the chosen guy the right, over anyone else, to take up that precious slot of time usually spent at the gym?

Do you see where I'm going with this? If I went on dates with some or all of them, I'd never be at the gym. I'd become fat, depressed and restless.

Here's what it comes down to: I have no f*cking time to date. I guess that isn't hurting anyone but me, but you have to admit I have a point. The gym is my safe place, and it just so happens I like feeling safe.  

A good date could be just that: good. But a good day at the gym is great. I don't want to feel lukewarm. I want to feel on fire. So for now, I'm going to choose "Burn" almost every time, and I hope that's all right with you all.

Maybe I'll even meet someone at the gym...