Back in December of 2014, my gym released a new schedule. They change classes and class schedules every 8ish weeks, so this was nothing new. However, the schedule is usually only about 4 weeks long in the month December, so January can start off on a fresh “new year” schedule. On this particular four-week December schedule, there was a new class with a new trainer offered: Brick House Barbell. Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m not a fan of change. I like things the way they are with very little disruption to my general routine. However, a very good friend of mine convinced me to go check it out with her, and, after quite a bit of stubborn fighting, I finally gave in and told her I’d “check it out, but I’m not promising anything past this first class”. I was an early morning “gym goer”, and this class was only offered in the evenings, I didn’t know anyone who was taking this class, I didn’t know who the trainer was but he was very quiet and seemingly very intimidating, and there was only one girl in that class…all things that were way outside my comfort zone. However, my friend promised she’d go with me, and probably promised she’d buy me food if I agreed to go, so I told her I’d tag along.
So, we met at the gym that evening and decided to wander over to the area in which the barbell class was taking place. We wandered around a little bit until the trainer who ran that class was available, and sheepishly introduced ourselves. This trainer was (as I said before) seemingly pretty intimidating, so we were pretty quiet and just followed any and all instructions and directions he gave us. For the next hour, we went through some mobility, learned basic technique, and practiced some basic barbell strength movements. It was interesting enough that we decided to come back and give it a shot throughout the whole month of December, and if we didn’t like it after that, we’d just go back to our 5:00am classes.
To make an incredibly long story short, we kept coming back. And here we are, two-and-a-half years later. But what if we hadn’t? What if we’d decided that it wasn’t something we wanted to do long term? After all, we were super sore for almost the whole month, it was still new and we felt so out of place, and it was in the evening, which wasn’t very convenient for either of us. So, what if we’d stopped coming after our four-week trial run? I don’t know where my life would be right now, but what I can tell you is that it wouldn’t be close to the same.
Weightlifting has opened a lot of doors for me. It’s caused me to take a better look at myself in terms of my dedication to a sport and my outlook on goals and goal setting. It’s allowed me to gain a better understanding of my body and what I need (from a nutritional perspective) to properly fuel my body. It’s taught me how to handle adversity and kept me humble, but always hungry for more. But, the best thing weightlifting has given me, and the one thing that I value more than anything else, is the relationship I’ve developed with my teammates.
From the very beginning, my coach preached “goals”. He is a firm believer in having goals and working toward them everyday, so he is always encouraging us to set goals, reach them, and then set more. I always knew goals were important, but never realized just how much they can motivate us to do so much more than we think we’re able to do. Thanks, in large part to weightlifting, I now set goals in every aspect of my life: work, home, relationships, training, etc. and use them to push me past any difficult barriers that are in my way.
As many of you know (and as I wrote about recently), I grew up as an overweight kid. I never gave much thought to what I ate or drank, how much I slept, or any of those now-important ‘healthy habits’. As I grew up, and started to realize I should pay more attention to that stuff, I had a hard time figuring out where to start. Strength training does some awesome stuff to your body. Without going through my whole weight loss/gain journey again, I’ll just simply say that weightlifting has really changed my life from an overall health standpoint. I firmly believe that if I hadn’t found this sport, I’d still be struggling to understand my body and what it needs in order to be fueled in a healthy way.
There are days in the weight room where you feel like you can conquer the world. Everything clicks, everything is smooth, and your lifts all feel snappy and sharp. Then you come back the next day, put the same weight on the bar, and this time the barbell kicks you around, knocks you down, and tests every ounce of willpower you have just to pick it back up and try again. And again. And again. It can be brutal, it can bring you close to tears, and it can make you want to scream, throw things down, and walk away (may or may not be speaking from experience here). However, I keep coming back every day. Why? Because, as one of my favorite quotes says:
“I want to feel, experience, and live every emotion.
I will suffer through the bad for the heights of the good”
Some days suck. Some days every ounce of your willpower and pride is tested. But that’s not every day. Some days are amazing. Some days everything is clicking and you feel on top of the world. And those are the days that make it all worth it.
All of those points I just made above are incredibly significant to me. Each of those aspects of my life has forever changed me as a person. However, the one thing weightlifting has brought to me, that I value more than anything else, is the relationship I’ve developed with my teammates. The people I’ve met through this sport are next to none. They are dedicated, determined, and goal-oriented. They are supportive and encouraging when you’re frustrated, and they are right there to celebrate with you when things go your way. Belonging to an encouraging and supportive team is incredibly fulfilling. It’s even more fulfilling and enjoyable when the members of that team are some of your best friends. My training partner, who is also one of my best friends, is someone I was once terrified to approach and intimidated to engaged in conversation. I have developed friendships with people I never thought I’d connect with in a million years—people from all walks of life who come together everyday to simply lift heavy weights. I know, without question, that these people always have my back.
All of this, every single thing I mentioned above, was only made possible because I stepped outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t do it alone, and I basically fought as hard as I could to avoid it. But, in the end, I did it. Something that once seemed so small, nothing more than a ‘blip on the radar’ of my life, has forever changed me as a person. So, with that being said, I encourage you to try something new, even if you’re scared. It doesn’t have to be weightlifting. It doesn’t have to be anything fitness related. It only has to be something that makes you a little uncomfortable–something that causes you to hesitate before you take the leap. Go for it. Step outside your comfort zone; you never know what you’ll find waiting for you on the other side.