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In Praise of the Iron Gym

One of the greatest joys in the world is the iron gym.

What's an iron gym? It's hard to describe. It's easier to say what it's not.

An iron gym isn't a fancy fitness club. An iron gym doesn't offer jazzercise. An iron gym doesn't have wooden panelling and beautiful adornment. An iron gym doesn't have awesome, clean bathrooms. An iron gym's locker room is spartan, at best. An iron gym has mostly free weights, with very few machines. An iron gym isn't a place to mingle with the opposite sex. An iron gym doesn't offer yoga or other classes. An iron gym has no amenities, niceties, or anything like. An iron gym is usually obscure, with nothing special in real estate. It's often in a basement. An iron gym doesn't have a salesman to give you a tour of the place and show you around, doesn't ask for a one year commitment to join, or anything like that. An iron gym doesn't have fancy membership cards, swipe-in/swipe-out, or anything like that. You just show up and nobody hassles you.

So what's an iron gym? It's a spartan, bare bones place with free weights and a few very basic machines. It's often dirty and disorganized. There's no classes offered there. There's almost never women in an iron gym, if you go every day for an hour you'll maybe see a woman once a week. Maybe.

And I fucking love it. I love being at an iron gym. It's just a place to push iron. There's no posturing, no showing off, nothing like that. If you need a spot, someone will give you a spot. Everybody's cool. People don't talk too much, don't socialize too much. Nobody's doing business or trying to get a date or trying to move up the social hierarchy. There's just one thing there. Iron. And you lift and it's good.

Doubling Down

On Cameron Chardukian

I was lifting weights, and before I had even finished my warmup, I quit.

I wasn’t in pain and there was no logical reason for me to stop, but I did. I had just taken a few extra recovery days the week before so the problem wasn’t overtraining. I had slept well and eaten healthy the day of the workout, but for some reason I quit.

There appears to be some mechanism in our brains that’s geared toward survival and when I had the thought that maybe lifting weights wasn’t 100% necessary my body decided to conserve energy and give up on me. I allowed my body to control me as if I was an animal so, I had the idea to treat myself like one.

During my next workout I decided that not only was I going to finish my whole workout, but as punishment for giving up on myself I was also going to add 5 pounds to each lift. I decided that no matter what happened, I wasn’t going to leave until I got through my whole workout. And it worked. I completed each lift, and strangely enough the weights actually felt lighter than before.

I can’t tell you why the weights felt lighter, but I can tell you that increasing the amount I had to lift worked. Maybe it’s because I was more inspired by the higher goal and my body produced more adrenaline than it typically does. Maybe my body thought I would increase the amount of weight it would have to lift if it failed. I don’t know, and while I’m still not sure this is the best long term strategy to be using in the gym, I’ve been able to apply it to others aspects of my life quite successfully.

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