noun, plural; sanctuaries
  1. a sacred or holy place
  2. a facility where animals are brought to live and be protected and maintained


We all have to deal with the stresses of modern day life.  Work, bills, partners, tragedies etc. are all just part and parcel with life these days.  But while we ensure to service our cars and maintain our homes on a regular basis, we often forget the fact that we too need to be serviced and maintained.  I do this by lifting weights.  I was inspired to write this when I realized that whenever I seem to be in a bad mood, it’s almost always a day that I haven’t been to the gym.  So I got to thinking; am I addicted to the gym?  Is that even possible?

Addiction is described as: The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, such as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

That sounds an awful lot like what I have.  I definitely get a ‘high’ when I’m at the gym which I carry with me throughout the day and while cessation of regular workouts doesn’t cause me severe trauma (not physically anyway) I’m definitely a lot easier to piss off.  A typical day begins at 0600.  I get up, I take my vitamins and drink a protein shake.  Too early for solid food.  I then brush my teeth and put on my gym gear, which I’ve laid out the night before.  It’s now 0620.  I grab my backpack which contains my work clothes, dress shoes, towel and shower kit.  Again, everything has been ironed, folded and packed the night before.  I fire up my iPod and head for the bus stop.  It’s a six minute walk.  The bus arrives between 0635 and 0640 and gets me to my gym between 0710 and 0720.  You may be wondering why I have all of this timed to the minute.  I have this timed to the minute because I need to be at work by 0900.  To do this I need to leave the gym by 0850.  To accomplish this I need to finish my workout and hit the showers by 0830 at the latest.  So when my bus gets in at 0720 instead of 0710, I’ve just lost 10 minutes of workout time.  Most sets take approximately one minute.  I take a one minute rest between sets.  I can do three sets of two different exercises in 11 minutes.  That’s six minutes of working out, with one minute between each set.  I don’t need a final, 12th minute because at this point I’m done and walking to the locker room.  So that 10 minutes that the bus driver was late just cost me two separate exercises.  It may not seem like much but add it up over a year and it’s a lot missed exercises.

Initially I was pretty quiet (which is very uncharacteristic for me) and aside from the occasional ‘hey man’ or head nod, I kept to myself.  On very rare occasions I’d fire out a ‘sup bro?’ but that shit is only for special occasions.  None of this is because I’m anti-social, it’s because I feel like I’m there to work, not chit chat.  Once my work is done I’m happy to talk to guys and this usually happens in the locker room.  This lasted until one day when this big dude asked me to spot him while he went for a PR bench press.  No problem buddy.  I jump in and spot the guy.  His name is Dan and he’s from Tullamore.  Because I can barely remember my own name some days I decide to call him Tullamore Dan in my head.  This syllable-laden monstrosity is quickly shortened to Tully D.  Now when we see each other we give the obligatory ‘sup bro’ with an occasional ‘you’re looking big today’ peppered in there.  While spotting him I make sure to say super supportive stuff like “Aw you got this, no problem!”  I realize that this may sound ridiculous to an outsider but that’s what makes it so appealing to me.  It’s our own little world with it’s own little rituals.  Our goals are all different but the process remains the same; work, rest, repeat.  It’s painful and it’s sweaty and it’s awesome all at the same time.  No matter how crappy you may feel, you can always head to the gym, load up a bar and show yourself just how much you can accomplish. Weights don’t lie and they don’t listen to bullshit stories about how much you can lift or how many reps you can do. Either you can lift it, or you can’t. Lifting weights provides a refreshing and welcome distraction from all the clowns on social media constantly acting like they’ve been victimized or offended, reality TV nonsense and society’s un-ending desire for instant gratification.  All the people here understand that and everyone supports each other in their own individual goals.  It’s a powerful dynamic that we don’t see very often in society today; people who barely know each other, helping, encouraging and supporting for no other reason than the fact that we’re all on the same journey.  We all understand what each other is going through and realize that everyone needs a bit of a lift every now and then.

For me, I think the journey itself is what appeals to me most.  When I first went back to the gym in January after a long layoff, I set myself the goal of bench pressing 200 pounds.  Slowly I worked my way up, 2.5 kg at a time.  I know it sounds strange; I think in pounds but all the weights in the gym are in kilograms.  Nevertheless, I kept working away and I’m happy to say I achieved my goal yesterday… sort of.  I bench pressed two 45 kg dumbbells for three reps.  90 kg works out to 198 pounds.  The next increment, 47.5 kg, would equal 209 pounds.  This is as close to 200 as I can get at the moment.  I may see if I can find some ankle weights to wrap around the 45 kg dumbbells just so I can officially say I hit 200 pounds, but either way, I’m satisfied with myself… for now.  This sense of accomplishment won’t last long.  There is always another goal to be set, worked for and eventually hit.  That’s what I love.  That’s what I’m addicted to.





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