Finding Purpose on the Platform

Posted: January 19, 2012 in Our Philosophy

When I first came to university, I participated in a forum discussion about what people used as motivation to train. Many posted pictures of successful athletes or stereotyped images of Ali with associated quotes. What a joy I must have been when I threw up this self-made contraption:

What you see above were my motivations at 17 years old. Aside from the aforementioned stereotyped quotes, there’s my family crest and pictures of myself from years beforehand, where I had been successful in challenges or, as you can see, just liked the way I looked. Note: even women of powerful conversation and imaginative mind can be overcome by muscles if you are younger than 18. If the same goes afterwards, you’re chatting up a nympho with Daddy issues – RUN.

If I were to attempt to create the same thing now, the image would be entirely different. Sure, a lot of that I still find interesting, but back then my motivations were gripped by the social scene, my dreams of becoming a super hero, my desire to fight. I don’t think I understood what I was going through at the time, I doubt anyone ever really does. That picture is less of a motivational jpeg and more of a story of my life up until that point…family, sport, a desire to succeed, bravado, creativity and super heroes.

Now, the image of motivation in my head is simply a red silhouette of myself imposed on a deep black background. It’s less so an image I want to draw, but more an imagined pictorial representation of what it is I experience when I exercise. Exercise for me has become the ultimate form of expression and investigation, where all decisions are made and all stresses allow me to be reborn after every single session.

The only similar experience I can help explain this feeling with is, as absurd as this may sound, the act of prayer. I grew up in a Catholic household, attended Catholic education and was invited to pray often. Often I did, alone. It was there, lying in bed or at the chapel, where I experienced that feeling of enlightenment for the first time. Like I was having a conversation with God, a guide of some kind that was present within me at that time, allowing me to discover things about myself I had never known before.

As a disclaimer, I hold no religious belief, that’s not what this was about. But through my youth, I did learn that the purpose of prayer is not simply to give “Him” glory, but to ask questions and think about the answers…to gain clarity amidst stress…to reflect. (and of course, as a Catholic, to apologise profusely for everything you’ve ever done, ever, period)

I always assumed I knew what people talked about when they said exercise was a “way of life”. “I love to exercise, I do it all the time” – ergo I must live that way of life…but that’s not the full story I believe I understand now. I often believe my obsession with exercise is perceived as bravado or arrogance, I guess you can think about it whatever you like, but when I’m training, the last thing I’m thinking about is your impressions of what I do under the bar. To describe this feeling as “good” doesn’t cut it. Exercise has gone from being “good” to being a seemingly celestial necessity, where the bar either hits the mark or it doesnt – there is no gray area. I train every day of my life that it is possible for me to train because now, deep inside of me, there is a liberating truth aching to get out that claws itself that little bit closer to existing in this world every time I force myself to overcome resistance.

I don’t know what that truth is yet…but I’m going to keep on praying.


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