Is it lifting 200kg off the ground or a double bodyweight squat? Are either of these the only definition? Is that the true crux of strength or is it something more than that? Something beyond the mere physical, beyond a black and white definition, something intangible.
To me, strength is undeniably an interconnection of both the physical and mental ideology of strength. To be truly strong, you cannot have one without the other. And you absolutely cannot build strength inside your comfort zone.
Strength is having the resilience to continue to do more than you ever thought possible.
It is setting foot into a gym for the first time, after sitting in your car for 30 minutes building up the courage to do so. Strength is walking towards the weights section, palms sweatier than they’ve possibly ever been. It is hearing the sound of iron clinking and “regulars” chatting between sets, the words muffled under the blare of the music. Top 40, predictably.
Strength is nevertheless, stepping onto a lifting platform. A platform that is probably no higher than 2 inches, yet feels like Everest. It is staring at the barbell, silently whispering to yourself “You’ve got this”, while simultaneously not knowing exactly what you need to actually “get”. Strength is performing your first lift.
But it doesn’t stop there. Strength is pushing through, rep after rep and week after week. It is building your first callus and continuing to add more and more weight, especially when you aren’t sure you can.
Strength is admitting that you feel like you “can’t”. It is challenging this “can’t” mentality we use so often in our daily vocabulary. Strength is dropping the façade of being perfect. It is realizing that you don’t have to be a strong independent woman (or man), who doesn’t need anyone and thinks they can do it by themselves.
Strength is acknowledging that you can’t and shouldn’t do it alone. Strength is finding your tribe, the ones who believe in you. It is having them there to keep you on your feet, when all you want to do is fall down. It is letting go of the fact that you will never be able to do it all, and be it all, to everyone, at all times. It is accepting that, at the end of the day, we are all human and we all have our moments.
Strength is being vulnerable. It is curling up on your bathroom floor and crying. Like really crying. The puffy red face, streams of tears rolling down your cheeks kind of crying. I think most of us have been there at some point.
Nonetheless, strength is not letting these moments define you. Strength is having the courage to pick yourself back up and move forward. It is speaking up when you feel voiceless and seeking support when you know you need it.
Strength comes from growth and growth comes from failures. Strength never came from doing things that are easy. Strength is hard work, but strength is worth it.
I can see it in my clients. They stand taller. They’re more confident. They not only hit their fitness goals, but their personal goals as well. They’re not just the ones who lose the 30kg or deadlift a PB pain free (although F#$K YEAH to them! #amiright), but they’re also the ones who have decided on a better life.
They’re the ones who now can, yet couldn’t before.
The ones who run their first ever ParkRun, who were previously anxious to even leave the house. The ones who climb a set of stairs without getting breathless, who are now able to pick up their children and play with them in the yard. The ones who move for the first time, pain free and unrestricted, returning to work and are once again able to provide for their families. The ones who hit their strength goals, following months of dedication, who had previously never even considering lifting weights for fear of humiliation. And they are ones who hit their goals the first time they test, and amaze themselves at their capabilities when they set their mind to it, unlocking potential they only ever dreamed of.
So here’s to the strong ones, both mentally and physically. To the people who have the strength to continually strive to be the best versions of themselves.
To the people, like you.