I have joined a new gym and it’s busy. Full of people. Every machine is taken, there’s kit everywhere and a queue for the squat rack.

The first few visits filled me with dread. Everyone annoyed me. I was frustrated having to wait around for equipment. People took ages doing their sets and they played on their phones for too long in between. After months of training in warehouse-sized spaces with respectful members, this felt too different. I considered leaving.

Then I reminded myself that I, and everyone else crammed into this place, all want the same things. We want happiness and fulfilment. We want to be loved and accepted. We want to look good and feel good and live in peace.

We are all the same, but it manifests in different ways, even between members of the same gym. For some it’s breast and bum implants. For others it’s shouting and roaring through reps. For a few it’s loading the bar with more weight than they can lift with full range of motion. It matters not.

As soon as I switched from hating everyone to seeing that we were all the same, the gym’s energy seemed to shift. I became patient waiting for a bench. Empathetic of someone ego lifting. Understanding of those who got too close. I smiled at more people and they smiled back. Fellow lifters were generous with their machines. They helped me out. I made some friends.

Same situation, different way of looking at it. All it took was to remember that we are all the same.