April 7, 2018

On Powerlifting

I often hesitate to share anything about lifting because I don't want to look like I'm showing off for vanity or give anyone the impression that I'm an uncultured brute. I guess you could say that I still have some of the remnants of the assumption that if you like going to the gym, you must be a dumb, self-centered jock. (Shocker: people aren't one-dimensional and binary)

But I recently saw this video of Oliver Sacks talking about lifting, which inspired me to write some of my own experiences about it.

I started around two and a half years ago when I was looking for a gym around my house in Philly. I think I literally typed in "gym" on Google Maps when I stumbled upon the place where I would learn how to do the squat, the deadlift, and the bench press: Warhorse Barbell Club.

I was terrified of the weights at first because, well, they were heavy. I could crush my foot or I could snap my back in half if I weren't careful. How many times have you heard the story of someone getting a herniated disc while deadlifting? I've heard lots. But I found that the more you do it, the more confident you get from handling it. Plus, there are always safety pins in the squat rack to prevent you from getting crushed by the barbell from a missed rep.

I didn't like doing it at first, but after a couple months of consistently working out, eating well, and sleeping well, I've found some changes in my body that I've never seen before. For someone who's always failed at sports, it was something new and exciting.

Here I have two photos: One showing a thin version of me back in 2014, and one a not so thin version in the present day

It wasn't just that I was bigger and stronger—I think the benefits that I've found are much more than that. I feel calmer and more confident with everything else in life. I also feel a sense of accomplishment every time I finish a workout. I say to myself, "I didn't change the world, and I didn't change anyone's life, but hey at least I lifted some heavy-ass weights."

It's weird—similar to what Oliver Sacks said, it feels like an obsession. Over time, you start getting addicted to getting stronger. In some ways, it feels a like a game where the weight on the bar is your score. I think that's why I enjoy it so much.

Even though I've been doing it for a few years, I haven't actually competed yet. That's something that I'd like to at least try this year. I'd like to be able to step on that stage, and compete alongside my gym buds.

A picture of my two Philly buddies before their first competition.

Here's to getting better.