Personal Training and Wellness Advice from Crux Fitness – The Archetypical Gym Rat
This is the archetypical story of every super-committed gym-goer. The transformation of a young, unconscious, emotionally and physical unstable adolescent to a mature, deliberate, and thoughtful adult. This is the story of the Gym Rat.
Stage 1 – An adolescent suffers from a constant stream of low-level anxiety or depression. Listening to My Chemical Romance and being moody around their parents helps a little bit at the beginning, but slowly the angst grows stronger and stronger. The adolescent has enough self-awareness to acknowledge that their lack of confidence and/or happiness is created in part by a feeling of discomfort about their body image. The adolescent also has a novice understanding that their fate is largely determined by their actions, so in an effort to exorcise their body image issues through exercise, they walk into a gym one day – a community centre gym because the membership is $15/month for youth and the adolescent isn’t even old enough to work at McDonalds.
Stage 2 – The adolescent has now become a teenager. The combined experiences of watching Instagram influencers doing push ups, receiving Bro Science advice from their peers, and analyzing older and fitter people at the gym work out have granted the teenager a passable level of kinesiology-related knowledge – enough to look moderately fit and exercise without getting injured. By now the teenager has entered into the exercise-addict phase of being a Gym Rat. The association between training consistently, looking fitter, and consequently feeling happier and more confident have got the budding Gym Rat fiending for weight training all day, every day. “More is better” is the motto for the Gym Rat in this stage of their development. The gym has now become their primary source of relief from the hardships of teenage life.
Stage 3 – The teenager has now become a young adult. And the young adult went too far. One or more of the following occurred in the previous few years: Overtraining and under-eating, overtraining and under-sleeping, moving poorly, not having enough movement variety, pushing through aches and pains. Whatever it was, the young adult has now experienced their first severe injury. Depression and anxiety ensue because the young adult’s identity is completely tied to the gym and they are now in a place where they can’t show up to the gym because of injury. “Who am I really?” they ask. Fortunately because the young adult is a young adult, and all young adults have Wolverine-like healing powers, the anxious and depressed Gym Rat is back in the gym within a period of a few weeks. Unfortunately because the young adult is a young adult, and all young adults have the tendency to repeat the same mistakes many times over, the Gym Rat suffers another severe injury shortly after the first one. It seems as though the universe hates meatheads. The young adult experiences an existential crisis.
Stage 4 – The mature, adult Gym Rat has figured some shit out since the last injury. For one, the gym is not life. Life is life. Also, the gym is a place to optimize your body and mind so that you can go out and do other fun activities; max effort bench pressing is fun, but outdoor activities are fun too. So is partying. The mature Gym Rat has now come to the conclusion that self-esteem and worthiness as a human being should not be dependent on how hard one can train. Self-esteem should be based on upholding sound moral values and giving back to the community. The Gym Rat now trains for intrinsic rather than extrinsic reasons. Training for the pure joy of it rather than to suppress feelings of self-hatred. Training to feel well rather than to demonstrate physical prowess at all costs. The Gym Rat now uses the barbell as a self-development tool, rather than as a safety blankie in disguise.
As always, if you’d like to know more about, and start taking responsibility for your own health, fitness, and wellness, please reach out to Crux Fitness Richmond for any of your personal training needs.
Patrick Koo – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Personal Trainer at Crux Fitness Richmond