Skip to main content

Putting in the work

(Photo by Bobby Menbari)
After I started lifting last year, it wasn't long before some of my students - namely, my freshman boys who were hoping to make the football team - found my lifting videos on my Instagram. (It is public, after all.) It's a never-ending source of amusement to me - do fourteen-year-old boys usually look up to their female English teachers when it comes to weightlifting? I'm thinking not.

There's one kid in particular who pops his head into my room every now and then to ask about my numbers, and this week, after a particularly awe-filled shake of his head, he followed up by asking, "How do you DO that? How do you get your total so high?"

The truth is much more complex, but what I told him was: "I show up and I put in the work."

I mean, yes, my genetics plays a huge role. I honestly don't know where in my family this comes from, because if you look at my parents, my grandparents, and all my aunts and uncles, there is nothing that would jump out at you that screams "weightlifter." I don't know anything about my family history prior to my grandparents, but did I have some sturdy workhorse farmers in my ancestry? Warriors? Who even knows. But at any rate, there is some sort of Component X in my DNA. I've always been a stout, sturdy sort of girl - never in my life have I been petite or dainty.

There's also my own athletic history, which I CAN speak to, and which you are familiar with already - I've been a runner for over a decade now, and I also spent a good chunk of time playing roller derby. While I wasn't particularly great at either thing, it did mean that I needed a good amount of strength in my legs, glutes, etc., especially for derby, where you spend a lot of time in a squat.

And the last (but not least) thing, of course, is putting in the work.

I'm not the most consistent person at Anchored. That's the honest truth. I keep pretty busy, and sometimes I have to forego an afternoon at the gym due to being sick, having too much work to do, or tending to my family. But usually I try to lift about 3 times a week, and especially lately, I've been doing my knee rehab routine every single time I come in. Unless I'm particularly pressed for time, I'm there for about two hours for each workout.

People find my PR videos impressive, but in between testing weeks? There's really nothing to see. Watching me lift from day to day is probably really boring. It's not glamorous, and it's not fun. I mean, it's fun to BE there, because I love my gym family and we always have a great time together, but the actual workouts themselves are workouts. It is work. I have to struggle and fight my way through the reps and the percentages that increase weekly. I have to swallow my pride when my coaches ask me to do accessory work that often involves movements that I'm actually quite bad at. And then I DO it because I know it's good for me, and I know I will always be bad at them unless I actually put in the work to get better at them.

It's not exciting. Sometimes it even feels tedious. But it's necessary - if I want those GAINZ... if I want to walk out there at my next competition and know that I've done everything in my power to achieve my goals... if I want to protect my knees... then I have to put in the work.

Don't get me wrong - I love going to the gym. I love going to MY gym; I adore my coaches, and the community we have at Anchored is what makes all the work enjoyable. On days when my own personal motivation is lagging, it's everyone else that helps keep me going.

But what it really comes down to is the work. Day in, day out. It's hard to see it when you're in the moment, hard to see what difference just one more rep or one more set will make, but when I add up all the work I've been doing (or not doing) over weeks or months of training, everything counts. And suddenly the missed days feel like missed opportunities.

So I'm trying harder. I mean, I do try pretty hard, but I could always try harder, and I will. I've got another competition, a full meet this time, coming up in March, and I plan to put in the work, so I can go out there on that platform knowing that I've done the best I could possibly do for myself. My genetics can only take me so far (and it is pretty far, truthfully), but what it comes down to is putting in the work. (And showing teenage boys who's boss.)