So, I was in the gym back in December, and as I ‘stepped into growth’ it knocked me on my ass. Literally.
When it comes to trying new things and pushing myself, I’m generally all for it – but in all honesty, I usually play it safe. I prefer the calculated predictability of sticking with what I already know – and ‘failure’ (growth) hurts. At least- in my head it does. My ego doesn’t like to be confronted with the instability of the unknown. Egos don’t like to be wrong.
Earlier this winter, my bodybuilding coach assigned my first ever 1 rep max testing. The goal is to determine the maximum amount of weight one can lift for one repetition. As a figure competitor, I’m no stranger to the gym… but on this particular trip my stomach filled with butterflies and my mind with dread.
Pushing to my max is flirting with failure (a word NOT in my vocabulary), and failure, in my mind – feels a lot like disaster (and- albeit dramatic, a little like DEATH). I’ve done small exercises to failure, but failing at a bicep curl is much smaller and less intimidating than failing a squat… I can easily hide in a corner somewhere to fail a curl – a squat is much more public… especially at L.A. Fitness.
So, as I warmed up to fail (grow), I gently reminded myself, ‘this is supposed to be fun! Right?? Why else would I spend so much time and energy on it?’.
Okay. Yes. Fun. Rack up the weight.
I incrementally reached my former max and was surprised by how strong I felt. It seemed like I was going to lift more than I had ever thought I was capable of…
195. Strong. 205 – Lifted. (I don’t even remember the ride back up to standing… must still have more in me)… 215 – Done. Don’t focus on the number. It’s easy, not much more than before.
My body had begun to shake and tremble with adrenaline. Hoisting that much weight on my shoulders made me feel especially vulnerable- if I made one wrong move it could easily crush and crumple me.
- Okay. Two plates. On each side. Breathe. Strong. I planted my feet, breathed in deeply, held it, and began my squat.
Somewhere well before 90degrees I froze. My body refused to move. Panic set in- ‘Lift it back up!!!’ my brain screamed… ‘UP! UP! UP! Fuck, this is heavy…’
Suddenly I noticed the plates on the right side of the bar smacking the guard rail (what is happening?!) and my ass hit the ground.
My failure (growth), had knocked me on my ass.
I barely heard my partner Connor behind me, ‘are you okay!’, I looked up at him, bewildered, ‘are you physically okay?’ he continued, ‘not mentally’.
He was reading my face while I was still trying to decipher what had just happened.
I had literally toppled over. And my body felt FREAKED. OUT.
I hadn’t played it safe this time. And the result? I had failed… and it bewildered me to my core because I hadn’t died.
The experience was admittedly, scary, but not nearly the disaster my mind had created. So I fell over. Big deal… So people at the gym saw me fail. At least I was pushing myself…
I realized if I never push my limits and always play it safe, how will I ever know what I’m capable of? ‘Failure’ isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. It’s the mark of a current limit, a goal to be set, something to push for.
If all I’m ever ‘pushing’ or striving for is easily within my reach, I’m not protecting myself, I’m limiting my potential for growth. Not only in the gym- in all areas of my life. It got me thinking, where else am I getting too comfortable? Where else am I not really pushing myself? Where else do I have room to grow?
I knew I could squat 185 lbs.
Beyond that, I had no idea.
Now I know I can not only lift much more than that, I have a specific measurement by which to evaluate my future successes!
I picked my ass up off the gym floor. I know I can squat 225. I couldn’t do it on 1 rep max day… but I know I can get there! Failure doesn’t mean I’m incapable.
It doesn’t mean I should give up.
It simply means I have room to GROW.
What are some areas where you’d like to experience growth in your life? I’d love to hear your comments below!