We went to the gym for the first time in a long time today. We visited a few days ago to determine if we'd feel safe going back there. The change was enormous and their plan for safety really sound. So we went. Before the machines were close to each other and now they are spread far apart and even with people in it, it feels empty.
I got on the cable machine and started my routine. I'm rusty at it and missed several things but that's not a worry of mine. It was while doing this that I began to feel this gnawing loneliness and isolation. This struck me as odd because I didn't go to the gym to make friends, I had gone to get fit and that's why I was back again. It was the physical me that needed working out, not the social me.
But as the feeling grew stronger, I realized that I missed the general bonhomie and the interaction with casual strangers. The bits of encouragement. The quick conversations about the workout. The advice given freely in a friendly manner. There were never bunches of this, just evenly spread through the gym that I knew, as I became known there.
This was a different experience. With people far away, conversations were improbable if not impossible. With the workout areas so spread out, it was easy to feel invisible there. I got a good workout. I had lost strength in some routines and gained it in others. Physically my needs were met. But oh my gosh, my social needs, which I didn't even know I needed, were not.
The pandemic is hurting us in ways we don't even know.