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Is There a Shrink in the House?


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Nothing is certain, least of all the weather. But I’m willing to bet a 10-pound-plate the fair weather in my neck of the woods is here to stay. Of course that says nothing of earthquakes, tsunamis and economic drought. It is California, after all.

Clear skies and warm breezes, long days and high hopes are ours in abundance. We’re rich. It’s the season of refreshment and revival and restoration. Routine is replaced by spontaneity and we find ourselves in the gym while there’s still daylight, wearing a favorite T-shirt and a broad grin. We’re happy.

The change of seasons, the length of the days, the weather, the color of the sky, the temperature -- they are dominant externals that affect our moods, our chemistry, our energy, function and goals, and consequently, our output and achievement. We endured the cold, we suffered the austerity, we survived the storm and we produced against the odds. Just imagine what good we will accomplish during the calm and hopeful, the sunny and warm.

Let ’er rip.

Imagining is important; visualizing and meditating are effective tools in achievement. But nothing replaces action. Research and study are worthwhile, but nothing beats performance. Planning serves us well, yet without application plans are pointless. Routines and programs firmly establish direction, but we go nowhere without execution.

Action, performance, application and execution are the sure way in the fields of iron; add intensity and we have a highway.

More and more, as time passes, the journey becomes a struggle of force and might over injury and pain. We have the will, we have the know-how, the gear, the time and the place, but alas we eventually compromise our physical freedom or facility. It’s the tender shoulder or elbow or knee and it afflicts young trainers as well as older trainers, though the latter have earned first rights. Excessive weight or set and rep overload of certain exercises (bench press comes to mind), extended muscle and joint workload without adequate restoration, faulty exercise execution, the performance of inadvisable movements, haste, loss of concentration, improper training schemes, poor nutrition and age round the list of common causes of our pervasive battles.
 
Muscle and joint injury is inevitable. Limitations and disorders need to be identified and isolated, confronted and overcome. They all are associated with wear and tear, time and toil, and they disable the mind and emotions as seriously as they attack the muscle and might. Movement is the ultimate remedy for injury and pain, discouragement and disappointment. Rest and nutrition fit in there somewhere, but we’ll get to those later.

Who trains when he has nasty strains and soreness, brain surgery and broken bones excluded? He is not the doctor’s obedient patient or dear mom’s respectful son. He is the willful and determined rebel whose face is distorted while he warms up ever-so-slowly before gingerly hoisting metal over his head with a snarl. Note the whack job, the one glowing in the shadow of the squat rack. The strangely focused person who wear wraps around the joints and does the barbell row, dumbbell curls, pullover and whatever with odd, personally customized grooves resembling exercises -- not wrong, not exactly right, yet very effective and precise.

The wincing and sneering, you’ll notice, is not accompanied by moaning and groaning. Complaining sabotages progress and growth will never be realized. Asked how he’s doing, he says fine. Truth is, he hurts like ugly, but there’s no place to go but the other side. A blend of time, madness, good nutrition, continued oxygenizing and vitalizing through exercise, thoughtful attention, rest and high hopes make well the wound, the wounding and the wounded. Drink deep.

“Who doesn’t train when they hurt?” is the question. I’m not sure I’m sure. I mean, I don’t know if I know.

Is it the wise man, the righteous one, the patient person, the good patient or the quick to recover? Hard to say, isn’t it?

The sensible lady and gentleman, stable in their ways, or the common man, the ordinary woman, limited in their ways. Who’s who, which is which?

The worrier, not the warrior, that’s my pick. The weak, the lazy, the fearful -- they don’t confront the steel stacks when pummeled by injury. Nor does the suffering wimp, the least of mankind, the lout, the sluggard or the oaf rush to the lifting platform to perform his deadlift amid the throbbing.

But wait, bomber. Some say the truly courageous of mankind, the self-confident and secure, the bold and enduring have no need to punish themselves while recovering from damage. They are the heroes and champions, the certain and secure. Others declare the incredibly gifted and the enlightened ones smile tranquilly and await healing, the gift of life… ohmm…  Hmmm.

Not so, Jo. He who avoids the gym floor is the muscle-maker without passion, heart and soul. I say it’s the lifter who ignores the roll of fat forming around his waist as he sleeps, the passive trainer who ignores his muscular deterioration, the so-called athlete unruffled by his declining cardiovascular condition as he warms the bench, and the bewildered eyewitness of her own personal collapse failing to resume her place before the steps and stairs.

The soft and weak-spirited do not train when injury prowls. They do not heave, heft and hoist when pain lurks. Pushing the iron is a willful act, an intentional mix of purpose and responsibility, need and nerve -- attributes foreign to fearless ironheads. The dabblers and dandies might do a set or a rep, but not within range of legal discomfort. Whimsy and fancy seldom endure the severe environs of the house of steel.

Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

It is pure devotion that leads us to the iron when we hurt. A curious love affair ignites our pursuit of the unaffectionate metal down the corridor-maze of our lives. It’s not the object, the heavy, hard, cold, uncompromising and non-judgmental defender of the self; it is it’s lovable tempering affect upon the mad world about us.

Yeah… whatever. I repeat, its spring! No rush but none of us has time to waste. Push that iron, lift that steel, and by God, build that muscle and might.

Smile, be happy… The Paper Draper

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