How I stay motivated at the gym is something that escapes many of those around me, and often when they attempt to take up regimes themselves they end up quickly becoming bored. Sure it’s fairly hard work and essentially involves monotonous movements – lifting heavy items up and down over and over and over again, which isn’t everyone’s idea of a great time. At the same time you get hot and sweaty and your hands become sore from gripping onto the dumbbells and pull up bars. If you’ve just had a long day sometimes it seems like there’s nothing you want to do less than go and exert yourself some more in a crowded sweaty room. Then there’s the whole time aspect, currently juggling a job, a social life and the gym has meant I regularly go to bed at 5 am. Not cool.
So why do I stick at it? Well I probably see training slightly different from the rest of you. I’ve been doing it since I was 13 so it’s bread into me and is in some ways all I know. I’ve become so used to the benefits that I’m not sure I’d be who I am without them.
And the benefits are many. Being stronger means that you instantly have more confidence in every sense; I believe in a way that at the end of the day any dispute comes down to who’s physically stronger. You can trump any witty comment, any devious behaviour, by just getting the dude in a headlock and saying you won’t let go until he toes the line. It also gives you the respect of others, both men and women, and although you also get some resentment, so long as you remember it comes from a place of jealousy… well that’s kind of flattering too (yes, I’m a narcissist). Being strong makes people stand up and take notice of you, it makes you more imposing and impressive and everything you say has extra weight behind it. Then of course there’s the fact that you can use it to pull… Physically too being strong obviously has benefits – I never struggle with jam jars (helps that I don’t eat jam), I can move house quicker, carry more shopping, climb better, win at more sports… the times that strength comes in handy are myriad.
But none of that is really why I go to the gym. I don’t see the gym as the means to an end but as an end in itself. Yes, I’m one of those weird geezers who actually enjoys the gym itself. And if you really get into it, you will too.
Going to the gym you see is a battle. It’s you versus yourself, a challenge you issue your body to push through pain and mental barriers. When you’ve had a bad day, when everything seems a bit hopeless, you can either go home and sulk or you can go to the gym and pump out 12 reps of 100kg on the bench press – it’s telling the universe that you’ll never surrender.
When you’re in the gym you have more in common with the heroes and warriors of legend than you do with your pencil-pushing colleagues. You’re preparing for a battle that may never come, hardening both your body and mind for any situation. When the robot apocalypse comes, we bodybuilders will be on the front line.