When I first picked-up weight training, I was a scrawny 13 year-old. I had been bullied for years, and decided to do something about it. I was the shy, timid kid in the classroom and had less than zero confidence in myself, in addition to having massive social anxiety. I’ll never forget flipping through my Dad’s Muscle & Fitness magazines and seeing pictures of Ronnie Coleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jay Cutler. It didn’t take long for my male mammalian brain to associate muscle and strength with confidence (and less bullying). I started following their programs, of course expecting to look exactly like them after the 8-12 week program. What started off as a quest to simply get jacked transformed my life in more ways than I could have possibly imagined.
Before we go any further, I want to be clear how I define “strong.” You do not have to be an elite level powerlifter, olympic lifter or bodybuilder to be considered strong. If you are physically and mentally prepared for what life throws at you, you are very strong. Pavel said it best when he said “Strength is not a data point; it’s not a number, it’s an attitude.” I care less about your pr’s and more about who you are as a person, how you serve those in your care and how you handle adversity. Don’t let any gate-keepers try to keep anyone out, strength is for everyone.
In my teenage years into my twenties, I trained simply to get as big and strong as possible. The goal was simple; get jacked, look great and get all of the girls. It was really that simple. As I progressed in my fitness journey, I cultivated a passion not just for training but also coaching others. It’s no shock that walking into a gym at 13 influenced me to later become a personal trainer at 22.
As we get older, we seem to take on more responsibility. In what felt like a flash of time, I was suddenly a husband, father, community volunteer and trainer. My workouts became much more about sustainability and helping me become my best self and less about simply looking good. I won’t lie, I definitely still train for aesthetics, but I’m focused on bigger fish these days. There are mountains of research indicating the positive mental health benefits from being active. I can tell you that working-out regularly for years has helped me show-up as my best self for my family and community by:
- Enhancing my self confidence and self worth, making me finally feel “worthy”
- Improving my physical health
- Increasing my physical strength to levels I once thought impossible
- Making my body and mind more resilient against stress and setbacks
- Building discipline that spills-over into the rest of my life
- Setting a positive example for my daughter
- Showing-up as a healthier and more positive spouse to my wife
I could go on, but you get the idea. Strength training has dramatically impacted my life in so many ways and will probably continue to do so into my middle-age and golden years. No matter where you are in your fitness journey, my challenge to you is to keep going (or get started). When duty calls, you want to be ready. I think Bruce Lee put it best, “Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
To your lifelong health and success,