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  • Writer's pictureJohn Dodd

A Question of Weight(s)

Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels

As those who’ve met me will know, I’m not the smallest of people, and in fact, I’m probably amongst the largest. I’ve been this way for a good many years, and only in recent times come to consider how well I seem to be doing for a man who registers on the scales as “One at a time please.”

I do go walking, not running (because reasons), and I lift weights (Not just myself before anyone thinks to make the comment), but I’m not on an intensive training programme.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years, is that if I’m feeling particularly down or unusually sluggish, then a swift go with the weights will often sort me out for that day and the days that follow, moreso than a drink or a good meal, the Iron is the life.

What is it about weights that makes the difference?

I started lifting in my early twenties, as it happened, I’d gone to take Mark to Karate and there was a gym bolted on to the training area, so while he was at Karate, I went to the gym and worked out there. It’s a curious thing now, but I remember when I first got on the bench, barely got fifty kilos in the air and I’d thought at the time that I was fairly strong. The chap next to me saw me when I finished and asked how I was doing.

Three, I said.

Three sets of ten? Handsome effort said he.

No, said I, Three, singular.

This was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the Iron. I was a single parent at the time, so going to the gym to work out was never going to be an option, there were no creche’s in Gyms back then, and even if there had been, I was too paranoid to leave the lad in the care of anyone I didn’t know.

I invested in fifty kilos of weights, went out to pick them up and then realised my potential error.

No car…

No problem, what’s the worst that could happen, get the bar, strap the weights to it, and walk home with it over my shoulders (that’d be one shoulder, because I needed the other arm to hold Marks hand and couldn’t risk the weights falling on him), which was only two miles away…

Two miles isn’t far…

It is with fifty kilos on your shoulders…

But, got them home, started training, fifty kilos was a lot to start with, but after a few months, it got to the stage where I was throwing it up quite easily.

Two ten plates please!

Another two months, seventy kilos started to seem like a real easy thing to do.

Two ten plates please!

Another two months, ninety is feeling like fifty used to.

Two ten plates please!

At 110, I encountered my first problem, there I was, bar going up, all the weights secured on the end with clips, and suddenly, I realise that the bars bent in the middle, and my hands are at strange angles that I’m not used to lifting with, so now I’m trapped under the bar wondering how best to get out. At this point, my nine year old spotter wanders in and has a good laugh, then suggests rolling sideways

Primary school physics everyone, if a bully’s on top of you, roll out from under them…

The whole thing tips and the weights will be off you in theory. Excellent idea, I rolled, the weights went down with a noise like thunder, Mark looks at the pile of twisted metal on the floor and then says that we should check on Janet.

Janet was the tenant downstairs…

Maximum mea culpa later, we came back up to have a look at the remains of the bar, which had been valiant to hold out as long as it had, then went up to cash convertors to get a solid metal bar, which had no issues all the way up to 140 kilos. I realised how much weights were a part of my life when Mark and I saw Unbreakable, the scene where he lifted all the weights in the room and then went to find more things to lift. We got home, Mark looked at me, I looked at Mark.

And we went to lift weights…

Well, I went to lift weights and he went to find tins of paint…

Turns out I could lift more than David Dunn, so I did have to resist the urge to get a poncho and go walking the streets at night, but that thought has been present several times. What I did was continue to get stronger, and with that, I got bigger. There hasn’t been a time for more than twenty years when I haven’t been able to lift more than a hundred kilos with reasonable ease, and it’s become part of the identity I hold for myself, that of a strong man who does the right thing. In the dark times (which I may one day speak of), I held to the notion that I could be strong and protect those I loved, and that would be my purpose in life. I revelled in every weight I lifted, every movement I made, even cycling after leg day was tolerable, and I mean tolerable, no one likes cycling after leg day, but I loved lifting. I don’t lift now to improve my totals, but I enjoy moving the iron, it’s a meditation as much as anything, there’s absolute focus when you’re lifting something that will kill you if you drop it on yourself.

The other thing is that lifting is as much mental as it is physical, if you can’t see yourself succeeding, then you won’t succeed, and if you think that you can’t put more weight on the bar and try, you’re wrong. Extra weight is always available, and you’ve got to have the mindset that you not only want to lift it, but that you can.

What I am saying is that life is like the Iron, you won’t always make the lift the first time, but you keep going back and sooner or later, the weight will go up. Sometimes the bar bends and you’ve got to upset some people to keep going, sometimes you get trapped under it and have to get innovative. But you do something that you love and you feel alive again.

But you’ve got to love what you’re doing, if you don’t, you won’t keep doing it. Even if you’re getting paid a lot of money for it, sooner or later you’re going to start asking the question of why are you doing it, and you’ll want to do something else. Know yourself, improve in the things you want to till there’s no weight left to add to the bar that you’re lifting.

And then you’re Unbreakable.

In whatever you’re doing.

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