“If your expectations are always those of someone content to live without physical challenge, then when it comes time for mental, moral, or emotional challenge you fail to meet it because you are out of practice. Meeting and overcoming obstacles are skills that can be honed, as opposed to talents with which we are born. The best way to prepare for the inevitable shit that life occasionally hands us all is to live in a way that prepares you for it. If you can treat personal tragedy like a heavy set of 20 squats, you'll do better than someone who has never met any challenge. Intentionally placing yourself in the position of having to complete a task when you don't know if you can is the single best way of preparing to be in that position unintentionally.” Mark Rippetoe Strong Enough? Thoughts from 30 Years of Barbell Training
There are a great many people in the world who see barbell training and bodybuilding as a strictly self-centered endeavor. It conjures images of the Meat Head who is only concerned with how big his biceps look, or the Instagram selfie queen
who’s claim to fame is a duck face and a butt picture. While these people do exist, training is much more than that to most people. Training is a release, it is a time to focus on yourself, to challenge yourself on a regular basis, it is a source of growth. People like Mark Rippetoe, who have dedicated their lives to training themselves and others, know that the benefits of getting stronger are numerous, and expand far beyond the size of your muscles.
Living in the modern world means that it is not often that we have to do hard things. Technology has given us a new way to live. Things that were previously done by hand are now done with the push of a button. Computer programs solve many problems for us. It is a world where our greatest challenges usually involve choosing what movie to watch on Netflix. Training is a way to make sure that each day we give ourselves something difficult to do. Those physical challenges that we choose to inflict upon ourselves will make us better equipped to handle life when it gets hard.
The lessons the gym has to offer are many. Progress is often slow, tedious. Sometimes you will feel stuck. You will have the choice of giving up or trying again. Every day you will have to choose to lift the same weight you lifted the week before, or decide if you’re ready to increase the resistance. This is a lesson itself. If you increase when you are not ready you might not reach the number of reps you want to hit. But if you keep the weight too light you will not progress. If the machine you want is broken do you pack up and go home? Or do you adapt and choose something else to do? When you have had a rough day do you choose to skip the gym and have a beer instead? Or do you recognize that on the days you train you feel better
The skills and resiliency that we acquire in the gym are transferrable to life in general. Once you see that you’re capable of meeting the challenges that face you in the gym you begin to see that you can tackle more of what life has to throw at you. We learn that we are not helpless, that we are not weak, and we will start to seek new ways to challenge ourselves. Training will enhance your life if you let it. This is why I love the gym.