I identify as an introvert, but most folks who interact with me wouldn’t know it. One of my closest and dearest friends once told me I was the “most extroverted introvert” she knew. I’m bubbly and energetic with others. I can be loud, over-the-top and silly. AND at the end of the day, I prefer to recharge in a quiet, dark space by myself. It took probably 4 months into the pandemic for me to wish I could talk to someone who wasn’t my husband. I go on vacation at least once a year when I travel alone and enjoy a week without a single conversation, and I often wish I could do it more often.
With all that context, I was drawn to this conversation when I saw it posted on Tony Gentilcore’s blog. Unfortunately for me, the gist of the conversation is focused on helping introverted trainers find strategies that work for them, and I’m not a trainer. However, the conversation did spark some thoughts on the unique needs of us introverted trainees, and so that’s what I would like to explore in this post.
Do introverts benefit from different training environments than extroverts? The answer to me seems to be, “of course, yes!” I don’t want an audience when I lift. I don’t like having cues yelled at me to “remind” me of what to focus upon mid-movement. I want to be in my head. I blossom with mind-muscle connection and internal cues. I want to be told something and then given the internal mental space to practice it. If you are yelling at me while I lift, the only thing I can focus upon is whatever you’re yelling. And if what you’re yelling is abstract, “Hips, HIPS!” then I may lose my focus altogether while I try to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing differently with my hips.
I also suspect that lifting alone is particularly appealing to me as an introvert. Not saying I wouldn’t love to have a workout partner from time to time. If once or twice a month I could get together with someone with similar goals, nerd out together and push each other out in the garage, that would be awesome! Part of why I started this blog is I was hoping to build some community, to find folks like myself with similar interests to explore the nuances of how lifting fits into our larger contexts as we move through the world. And while I’m starting to make connections with other folk, I’m far from finding that rowdy community of fellow stringer-wearing studs depicted in Pumping Iron. Arnold, et al, celebrated a communal, hive-mind gym culture that only accelerated into the Westside days and later evolved into Crossfit gyms. No question many people have been drawn into the world of lifting to be part of a group and to share an identity with others. But for me, the very fact that these communities require training in groups together keeps me from showing up.
I would love to hear more conversations exploring personality traits, personal psychology and how these impact how we are motivated or respond to different training cues. I suspect there’s a rich diversity of needs to be explored, and we would all benefit, trainer and trainee alike, in more awareness of these differences and how we fit into the larger context. I know next time I look for a personal trainer, I’m going to hope to find someone who identifies as having some introversion in hopes of them being a better fit.
Do you identify as being introverted? How do you see introversion or extraversion as influencing your training preferences? I’d love to hear about it! Please leave a comment below, or you can contribute to and be complicit with unbridled social media and find and follow Progressive Strength on Facebook!