I see more women lifting, at my gym. A woman was in the power rack most of the time I was there, the other night. I watched another woman put actual plates on the bar to bench.
Most of the time, though, I’m the only one lifting. But most of the staff know me by name and the gym feels more like it’s mine, now.
It’s one thing to know that your own head is in your way. That’s less than half the battle, though.
Getting your head out of your way? You think it’s easy. It’s really not at all.
The weights are like the ice. They’re a thing. Iron. Indifferent. They’re there waiting for me to sort my shit out, on any given night.
Last night I realized there was nothing between me and a 115 bench but will. Just that. Just will to do it, permission to do it, whatever needed to happen in my brain – courage, focus, will, resolve.
These are words. Words we bandy about like they’re easy. “Be courageous! Focus!” Comes right down to you and a pile of iron and suddenly they get hard.
Ask yourself: what’s the risk of strength? What’s the risk of success, what’s the comfort of failure?
Every time I walk off this cliff I rewrite my story. I make myself anew.
Can I live up to something better, and brighter?
“So are you doing this so when you get bigger you can beat up men?”
He was wearing a baseball cap and slouchy track pants. Older. I stood there gobsmacked, couldn’t believe what I just heard. For a change, I didn’t say anything. Not right away. Then after about five minutes and really thinking about it, I walked over to him. He took his earbuds out so he could hear my response.
“I don’t know what you meant by that comment – ”
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” he started but I was still talking.
“- but it was bullshit. I’m here to lift, and get strong. I just benched a hundred and fifteen pounds -”
“That’s a lot,” he started, but I was still talking.
“- and that’s a lot, and that’s why I’m here, and for no other reason.”
And I walked off feeling like for once I hadn’t been just yapping like some scared angry dog, but had had something important and significant to say.
Sometimes, I lie on the bench and repeat my credo. It ends in victory. It ends in the word “victory.”
Sometimes I wait until I’m calm. Until there’s nothing but the word “victory” in my head.
Then I lift.
When there’s nothing else there.
Sometimes, it’s the answer.
Sometimes, it is the only possible, perfect thing.