Jan 13: Strength

Eleanor Roosevelt said: “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Tell us about a time you felt your strength.

I remember when I was in my early twenties. I was still in a period of recovery from a spinal injury, and I had moved house, and I’d finally plucked up the courage to look at joining a gym.

There was a gym down the road from where I lived, and up until that moment in time, all I’d ever done was dance. But now that I couldn’t go back to dancing just yet, I had to begin a very long and slow process of rehab and strength training in order to get my body properly functioning again.

That process was initially quite painful and frustrating. Frustrating because I ended up going through three different trainers before I found one that would actually cater a program to what I wanted to do and what I could actually do. The others just had a set basic program that they gave to everybody, but because I had so many physical limitations due to my spinal injury, I was very limited in what I could and couldn’t do.

This particular trainer came along and was very thorough in her assessment and her program – she took things slow and gently pushed my limits, and over a couple of months, my progress became quite noticeable and I was quite surprised at what I was able to do.

Just as I was beginning to make real progress, my trainer left, and none of those other wankers stood up the standard that she had set… they just seemed so…. dumb.

They all offered the same generic information, but then I soon realised that they all had completely different opinions about what I should be doing / eating etc. In the end, I just threw my hands up and thought ‘fuck this, it’s too difficult’ and just continued to do what I’d been previously doing, and every now and then increasing the reps before I started feeling too comfortable. I still took my time, and used the mirrors to make sure that my technique was always right, but for me, just being in the weights area was always so intimidating, because everybody else there was already so fit and muscly and ripped, and I was just a skinny little weakling by comparison.

I hated going to the gym, but it was something that I had to do in order for me to recover and get better if I wanted to have any possibility to get back into dancing.

Until the day I joined this gym, I had never done any weight training whatsoever. I’d never even set foot inside a gym, or lifted weights. I felt so completely out of place. Then all of a sudden, I find myself doing leg presses and I’m pressing 90kgs. That was heavier than I was. I couldn’t believe it.

I also struggled to walk for a couple of days afterwards.

Achieving something like that was incredible. I was so impressed with myself, and I realised that, you know what, I actually can do this ‘working out’ thing – I can feel the changes in my body, and I can see those changes as well. I felt great.