The quest began shortly after I entered the Powerhouse Gym in Highland Park almost 30 years ago. It was the summer between high school and college. A few friends were going to gym to stay ready for football when they went away to college. They were all playing college ball someplace – I never played or had interest in football. I just wanted to get into shape. As I entered the gym, I was impressed by the massive amounts of weight lifted by massive men. I was new to working out with weights and self conscious. I was not a 95 pound weakling – I was a 200 pound weakling.
One exercise people like to use as a measure of strength is the bench press. The folk I worked out with were lifting more than 225 pounds - 2 large 45 pound plates on each side of a 45 pound bar. The strongest of the group was lifting 315 - 3 large 45 pound plates on each side of a 45 pound bar. When it was my turn, they dropped the weight to 135 (one 45 pound plate on each side). I gasped, squirmed and struggled. It was too heavy and I was embarrassed. They assured me - everyone starts out with a low weight. They lowered it to 95 pounds. I struggled less and lifted the weight.
That was when I set a goal of lifting 315. I worked hard that summer. By the fall, I was benching 135. The folk I worked out with emphasized form over amount of weight. I was still embarrassed - but I kept working on it. I decided to buy a lifetime membership (initial fee of $290.00 and a $50.00 renewal).
When the folk I worked out with went away to college, I kept going and worked out with a new group. I made progress. Over time, I improved and became more confident. I realized that it is not important where you start - just that you start.
After a few years of hard work, I accomplished it - I was able to bench 315. Now what? I changed my goal to lift it with ease. Accomplished. Now what? I did not have a fitness goal - only a single exercise. I lost focus and purpose in my workouts. Without focus at the gym, I slacked off. I stopped going for long stretches of time. The longer I was away, the easier it was to stay away.
I needed a proper goal. I needed a general fitness goal to go along with various specific goals. Setting a goal of benching 315 was limiting – it said nothing about health or fitness. It was not part of an overall fitness goal. Without a health and fitness goal, I gained weight – a lot of weight. I topped out at 330. While working toward my goal of benching 315, my over 6 foot frame stayed about 235.
The start of this year, I set a general fitness goal to go along with various specific strength goals. Based on a TED talk by Derek Sivers, I’m going to keep these goals private. They are written down and I hold myself accountable. After I achieve them, I'll share them.
You can check out the TED Talk by Derek Sivers here: http://bit.ly/dgPwfg