Wednesday, December 30, 2009

thoughts on strength - part 1

For the better part of the last 25 years, I have been involved in some sort of strength training. I started out around 13 years old with metal pipes welded to my basement beams for pull ups, solid steel dumbells that I watched my dad use every morning to build his body into granite, a barbell set that had sand for weight instead of metal and my own bodyweight. They were the tools that I would wage war against every night for 2 or 3 hours. I remember the punching bag that had bloody reminders written all over it from the continuous punishment that it inflicted up on me. I loved every second of it.
While I was getting stronger physically, I was also building confidence, aggression and pain tolerance. There was nothing the world could do to me that the weights hadn't done to me already. I was constructing a suit of armor that nothing could penetrate, and, consequently, did not let anything out at the same time. I was forging my identity.
The weights don't lie to you. They are your friend, and your enemy. They are relentless. If you think you are strong, they will humble you and challenge you to put more weight on the bar. They do not praise you nor do they shame you. They do not share in your victories or cry in your defeats. They are always there for you when nothing else is. They are tested and true - they will never let you down or leave you for another.
Strength itself is very individual - you can make it as little or as big as you want to. For me, lifting weights was the only thing I could identify with, and still can much to this day. With a barbell, I know what I am getting - the cold steel in my hands is as comforting as a mother's loving touch to a crying child. Along with the obvious physical connection, I relied on the weights to give me what I wanted emotionally as well: solace, peace, purpose, making sense of the senseless, drive, pleasure, the list could go on. But most of all, I summoned the weights to give me the one thing that nothing else could give me: Pain.
I never felt more alive when I could hear my tendons and ligaments on the brink of ripping off my bones; when my muscles would beg for mercy as I unleashed set after set, rep after rep. I did not care about anything until I could feel the pain of my body while I was training. Up until that point, I did not know how to feel anything. With the weights in my hand, I could feel everything. Pain was a "gateway" emotion that taught me how to develop other emotions. I became addicted to the pain and nothing could replace it.
I can say without doubt that weights made me who I am today, taught me more than any textbook, and helped me out of the darkest periods of my life. In part 2 I will go over why I believe every kid - even non athletes - should be doing some sort of strength training no matter the goals, age, sport, sex or other labels.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I think that was what I wanted to say but could'nt say it so well!
Everything you said was oh so true!