Experiences Learnings

The Korean

As I started to bench press, I sensed a familiar presence. 2 sets of 20 kilos in, I began to feel a bit of strain in my shoulders. Before I could adjust position, I felt a tap and a bit of push under the elbows. Someone gently guided my arms to ensure the elbows didn’t sink too low. “hmm!”, a voice followed.

My gym trainer simply called him “The Korean” and so it stuck! About 5’ 2”, he usually wore an unassuming look. He had these round metal-rimmed glasses, sparse silver hair and a peculiar fitted t-shirt. I was told that he was in his late sixties and that he “even had grandkids”. He certainly looked seasoned, but boy, his fitness level was so impressive, it put most younger people to shame. He showed up everyday, and was totally focused on his regime. He would spot youngsters and older people alike and help them with exercises from squats to skipping and everything in between! He wasn’t much of a talker, but everyone loved him.

Interestingly, this week marks exactly a year since I started working out. Barring exigencies, I have shown up 6 days a week, no exceptions. In February of 2022, a benign but pesky auto-immune condition showed up and I had to act. I am pleased to say it has fully dissipated, since. Also, comments like “Abhi, you’ve put on” pushed me over the edge. 3-4 months in, as the metabolism improved, the puffy eyes went away, water retention reduced, and the muscle tone improved. Result? A healthier body, a healthier mind and better photos, yes! It was incredible. I also noticed that every workout significantly elevated the mood. The outlook on life challenges significantly improved too. I admit, there were days when I didn’t feel like working out, but I still showed up. This habit of showing up, no matter what, spilled over into other areas of my life. Obviously, it’s not all smooth sailing. I have managed to get injured twice and the last 20% of my weight goal has been incredibly hard to hit. Yes, it’s the diet, I know! I cannot yet stop myself from that untimely bout of comfort food 😕but hey, I’m getting there!

I’ll be honest, when I see youngsters super engaged at the gym, I wonder why I wasn’t as health conscious 15 years ago. I then realize that I simply wasn’t aware of my  vulnerabilities back then. It’s also revealing that most regular people I know at the gym are older adults. 

The Korean, in his late sixties, probably crossed all these stages a long time ago. He had achieved the nirvana of his own fitness and he was now paying it forward. He left us for Korea a few weeks ago and we had a short farewell. We gave him some gifts and bought a cake. At the farewell, he must have spoken about 12 words. However, he looked happy and grateful. You see, he didn’t need to talk, he let his values and culture do the talking all these months.

I left the gym that evening inspired and smiling, I had learnt a valuable life lesson in the most unlikeliest of places!

By Abhi Shah

Hi, I’m Abhi. After living many years in London, me and my family re-located back to India in the summer of 2017. I spend most of my time working with a high performing team at Barclays in Pune, India and the rest with my son Anik! I have spent half of my career in commercial product roles and half in technology. I have also spent over 9 years living outside India, and have traveled to over 27 countries. Visit the Bio section of this website to learn more about me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s