Oh, man, I am scientifically defined as NOT SHY.
Everybody knows me. It's hysterical: I step into the weight room and half the crowd looks up, laughs, and waves. All that's missing is them shouting "Norm!" It's fun to be a character but it pays to be a positive thinking character who is honestly interested in what people can teach me. I usually target the biggest, boldest, most bad-assed looking dude in the room and walk right up to him to pick his brain. He usually turns into a close friend.
I just recently lamented losing an immense, Guatemalan paramedic bodybuilding friend named Marco (roll your tongue when you say it, it's awesome) to his wanderlust--he's working in Thailand now. But I still have the Rock Jock, a retired geologist with whom I discuss magmatic batholiths and recent lava flows around Oregon. Then, there's Brandon, aka The Man of Steel, so named because he actually works in a factory that makes flat frame railroad cars in a giant foundry. Just yesterday, I made the acquaintance of Rhett who is the resident weight room trainer for the local high schoolers. I was disappointed to learn his wife's name was not Scarlet and he laughed like he's heard that one before. One of my favorites is Dave, a smallish man with large, soulful eyes whom you'd never know to be the sparring partner of a professional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter. It's amazing what treasures you can uncover in a weight room with minimal detective work. And I've learned stuff from all of them.
Case in point, one day a few years back an "old guy" walked into the room, positioned his water bottle and towel close to himself, and started doing basic moves in an unassuming manner. I noticed he was solid as a rock, though, and he knew quite a few of the swimmers who come in to work their shoulders. They were asking his advice and he was giving it with enthusiasm, so I got closer and listened in. He caught my gaze and with a twinkle in his eye, began telling me stories about his life. Holy crap! Not only has he biked AND run from one side of America to the other, but across Europe as well. He's written books about it. He still does the Hood to Coast race every year here in Oregon, a grueling multi-day race from our volcano to our beach, and runs other races, too. To top it all off, he was the founder of the Alcatraz Triathlon
in the 70s and only recently stopped competing in it, citing an unwillingness to freeze his ass off in the chilly San Francisco Bay year after year. I don't blame him: at 75 years old, you can do what you want. http://www.escapefromalcatraztriathlon.com/ http://www.escapefromalcatraztriathlon. ... course.htm
He lives blocks from where I run. Small world.
To me, he's just Joe. We tease each other incessantly and yell across the room to get each other to stop yakking and start lifting. He gives great hugs. He was as encouraging to me when I was out of shape, sick, and injured as he is now that I am three times as strong, 15% lighter, and trail running again. He shines like a light. So do I.
So, you never know who you'll meet. Just try one conversation. Hell, if you were at my gym, I'd be talking to you already