I just returned from my first workout after a long layoff. I didn’t choose the layoff; it chose me. Those bumps in the road, cracks in the foundation and snags along the way—life’s personal traveling companions—presented themselves generously and concurrently early this year. I could gripe under the circumstances (woe is me), but everywhere I look, people, places and things have it worse, much worse, than I.
If I squint and imagine that which sags is mass and that which wrinkles is ripped, and that gasping is a deep-breathing technique, I’m in darn good shape.
Something I noted upon my recent exercise recess: Because I have trained steadily and conscientiously for a very long time, the muscle formation and density I have acquired is established. That is to say, it’s there for good, not some pumpy stuff that recedes or becomes mushy unless constantly pursued, worshipped, coddled and fawned over. Who knew? It’s not like there are a lot of references I can refer to.
The best, wisest and most enjoyable life action I can apply today is to retain my splendid health…gasp, gag, groan…spare myself injury (no sleeping on railroad tracks, gnawing on a loaded Glock 45 or jumping from ascending helium-filled dirigibles) and serve my remaining muscle with two tough and tight workouts a week. Daily physical busyness on days off: Check! Always eat right: Check! Don’t watch the news: Check!
The return workout was the first after a couple of months of lying low and licking my wounds like one of them mangy, salivating junkyard dogs missing patches of hair. You know the workouts of which I so affectionately speak, often referred to as the UGHS, or Utterly Grim Horror Stories. Everything is heavy, the muscles are stiff, I tire quickly, and the groove is hard to find.
“Hey, buddy, have you seen my groove?”
The anticipation of the workout is unnerving, the guilt is devastating, no one remembers your name, the equipment has been updated, the floor plan has been redesigned, and in some instances your membership has lapsed. One time, as I recall, the gym was gone and a shopping mall had been erected in its place. You bet I was bummed, but I bought socks and underwear on sale at the new Walmart instead.
We are well into 2014; time has rolled over us like a monster truck and looking back and looking forward are equally divine and exasperating. Where’d the time go, where’s it been, and where’s it going? The biggest question—not a question at all: Where are we now? Tell me I’m not the only one confused.
Thank God for the gym, the iron and the nut cases (whack jobs, bizarros and crazies) with whom we share the cold, hard implements. Here’s to the vast variety of exercises and movements, the command they have over us and the command we have over them. People don’t know what a set and a rep really are unless they’ve passionately persuaded and powerfully urged a rep and a set to completion.
It—the gym, the quest, the whole catastrophe—begins with the obvious desire for a strong and lean body. We’re simple people with simple thoughts. Who doesn’t want to look good and feel better? Should the clinking and clanking survive a few weeks, a subtle, almost undetectable, relationship begins to form.
You sly devil! You know exactly what I’m talking about.
The gym and the journey to it, the time set aside for the workout and the workout itself are a nonlinear experience. Connect the ingredients, and a colorless, substance-free multidimensional pattern is produced. No part of it is separate from the whole, no more separate than you and your subconscious.
And herein we discover truth, integrity and commitment.
Push plus pull equals pump and burn—fulfillment squared.
Editor’s note: For more from Dave Draper, visit www.DaveDraper.com and sign up for his free newsletter. You can also check out his amazing Top Squat training tool, classic photos, workout Q&A and forum.