When I was a kid, the gym was the place I could go to get away from feeling like I was worthless and a failure. I could be in charge and decide whether I succeeded. It was my place to build and grow, mentally and physically. Much like other young kids who come from similar situations, I built walls around me. My walls were built of cast iron and steel.
It was also something I was good at. And as I grew and got bigger and stronger, the abuse went away very fast. I went from the kid that got "fucked with" to the kid you "don't want to fuck with." And I still see training that way today. The reason for this – and the strong guys reading will be able to relate – is there's something that happens during those very intense sets.
It doesn't matter if it's a PR set, a Max Effort set, a strip set, or a high-rep set, as long as it's one that you know going in will be a challenge. You know you need to find a way to up your game, step out of yourself, focus, and see what you're really made of. Because once the bar is loaded and your set comes around, you find this place that I really can't explain. From the time you approach the bar to the time the set is over, there's nothing.
The fight you had with your girlfriend that day? Gone.
Your finals? Gone.
Your work issues? Gone.
Your bills? Gone.
The asshole across the gym? Gone.
The bullies? Gone.
The hurt? Gone.
The mental pain is now replaced with physical pain, but this is pain that you crave, because the load you've been carrying all your life is now resting on your back – and you have the power to smash it.
I call this "nothing" The Void, but it isn't really nothing – it's everything. When I look back over 30 years of training, my big take away is that training is my therapy. This is why I do what I do, both the positives and even the stupid shit. This is why I'm so passionate about passing on what I know.
The Void is the only time that I am truly free – free from the bullshit that other people and life has thrown at me. It's all gone, just me and the weight. And that's where I find my peace. Training is my therapy. It has changed my life.
Maybe it could change yours?