You always see and hear stories from people about how getting serious about fitness has helped them be healthier and look better. What you don’t hear so much about is the kind of people you meet in the world of fitness.
Weightlifting? Why not?
Before I join The Vanguard in June, I could count the number of friends I had in KL on one hand. I had moved up to KL from Malacca for over a year by that point and I still couldn’t find a pool of people that I could really connect to. Then, an ex-colleague suggested that I give The Vanguard a try because she knew I was always vaguely interested in lifting weights. But I never really pursued it due to lack of knowledge of the sport. At that point, I had just quit my job and had lots of free time so I thought to myself, “Why not? Might as well give it a try.”
Bitten by the bug
It was a slow start. My body was all kinds of sore in the first few weeks and I was only going to the classes about once or twice a week. Then, I started loving the soreness of my body and watching myself getting stronger than ever. It was as if I got bitten by the bug. So I started weightlifting more often. From twice a week, it became three times a week which then, turned into five times a week. I would say it was all due to some masochistic part of me that loved putting a load of weights on my body that made me keep going back to the gym. But it was more than that, I was loving the people that I meet there.
One day, my coach, Ben asked if I wanted to join a power-lifting meet in October. I had a minor freak out moment, thinking “Oh God, that’s in two months time and I’ve only been doing this for about a month and a half.” But with a fair amount of reassurance from Ben, and me knowing that I can always trust him to know what’s best, I went ahead with it. I joined the meet and came in second! Best of all, I met so many people who were so supportive of each other even though they were all competing against one another. I remember being amazed by how infectious the positive vibes were within the community. You actually end up cheering a total stranger on just because you wanted to see him or her succeed. I have to admit, it’s the community that pushed me to keep going and keep trying to the best version of myself.
Don’t back out
Two months after that, I started Olympic weightlifting. So, the bond between my friends and I within the community got even tighter. It’s a complex sport that really pushed me not only physically, but mentally as well. At certain times, I caught myself thinking “Screw this, I can’t do it, it’s ridiculous.” But right before I even consider on giving up, someone in the gym comes along and says “It’s ok, it happens to everyone. Welcome to weightlifting. Don’t back out.” And out of sheer love and respect for these friends, who also had to go through what I was going through and coming out so much stronger than they were before, I pushed myself to persevere.
Listen to your body
I wish I could say that it’s all fun and games in the gym, but it’s not. I have been the subject of tough love when I needed a mental kick in the butt. But I came out stronger, and more mentally determined. . It’s not always about pushing to your limits though. Sometimes you need to realize when your body and mind are tired, you just can’t do anything too taxing. That’s when Ben taught me the most important lesson in weightlifting so far – you’re not Superman or Wonder Woman all the time. Listen to your body, accept that on some days, it’s just not your day, and that’s fine. Safety has always been a concern for him. Listening to your body and how it works is more important than most people may think.
Enjoy the journey
So I guess the one way to convince a lot of people that getting into fitness brings about more than just “having a bunch of cool new friends to hang out with”, are my numbers. On my first day at Vanguard on the 16th of June 2014, at 66kg body weight, I could only manage to squat 45kg for 5 reps. On the day of my first power-lifting meet on the 18th of October 2014, I managed a 1 rep max of 85kg. On the 19th of February 2015, at 60kg body weight, I hit 90kg for 2 reps. Honestly, I barely even realize that it has taken me 8 months to get to this point. I find that the best part of a long journey is to enjoy it. Then, you won’t even realize the amount of time you’ve spent on it until you actually look back on it. Even then, you wouldn’t think of it as a long and tiring process, you will look at it as something that’s only going to get more and more exciting.
Have the right people
I wouldn’t have enjoyed this fitness journey if it weren’t for these key people that I’ve met along the way. Also, I find that others don’t stress enough on the importance of having the right people, the right coach and the right plan to support you through all the changes that you will go through. My friends and family were there when I had to bid farewell to amazing, oily, beautiful Malaysian food for a few months. They don’t chastise me when I have to skip out on gatherings because I simply wanted to lift. Oh and girls, if you’re worried about looking bigger or bulkier if you start lifting weights, don’t be. My clothes fit so much better, I’m eating so much more and I’m sleeping even better these days.
“Don’t be afraid to try something new just because of what you read on the Internet.”