The weight room was my home away from home. It became the only place that everything made sense. I didn't have to worry about being judged or anything. The only thing I had to worry about was doing what I came here to do. My 2nd home was like a dungeon. Cold and sounds of iron clanking. Tons and tons of weight all around and it was either move or be moved. Nobody cared about anything else other than what was on the bar. It was then when I realized that I could change my fate in there. I could be like everybody else and skim through it, or I could push so much that I would create change. Gain strength.
I had to learn about strength because strength is something I needed in order to survive in there. I found I had a gift for it. A 112 lb kid lifting as much as an 180 lb man. I quickly got noticed and tossed into powerlifting. I knew since I first walked in that was my place. That's when the real work and pain began. Deep in an old hole in the wall gym was my new home.
Music jamming louder than a fire siren sends the message to your brain that this isn't a normal place, this isn't a place to relax or skim through, this is the place where you're molded and worked to the bone, sometimes literally. A cold chill is the first thing you notice as soon as you walk in, but you soon get over it. The cold is the last thing on your mind at that point. Weights clanking is all you hear and the atmosphere is a dark gloomy one telling you there is no pleasure in here. You're here for one thing and one thing only. WORK!
My coaches placed me at a higher level at an early age. I didn't have time to be wasting in the dungeon and I only had one purpose in there. PURPOSE- Since I was young I found out that you never accomplish anything without purpose. Without purpose, you're like a zombie walking around mindless in this world. Purpose is what separates you from the rest. Purpose is what guides you to where you need to be. Purpose, is what makes you walk your own path. So I began the fight of my life. Day in and day out I would push my body to the breaking point. Where others older than me were just giggling and wasting their time, I was in there with a PURPOSE.
Again the coaches noticed that so I was forced to workout alone after everyone else, away from distractions. That was okay, being alone. I preferred being alone in there. Now I had a clear picture of what was going to happen. I was either going to move this 300lb bar or it was going to move me and there was no way in hell that that was going to happen. My first couple of powerlifting meets were easy, there was maybe 3 people in my weight class in those 2 meets. Nothing tough. Where everyone else took advantage of these small meets and cruised by, I gave it all I got.
That was my purpose. Soon the next meets were bigger and tougher. That's what I had wanted, that's what I had itched for. Again I won and won. But that didn't phase or distract me. I was only in competition with myself. I didn't care about anyone else around me. The giant auditoriums were filled with screaming fans, or so they told me. I didn't notice. I was in another world. Away from everyone else. Doing what I came to do. I had to sacrifice things people my age were doing. SACRIFICE. I didn't mind it. There is no triumph without sacrifice.
Over the years things have pulled me. My friends, family, my life. Sometimes in the
wrong direction. But at some point you grow up and that's when you learn to pull. That's when you pull and pull hard! You learn to prioritize and manage all the things you need to do. But there is always something that will pull you back, reel you back in. The iron. Every meet I would challenge myself to get better and if I didn't do better than I know it was my fault and I'd go back to the drawing board to see what I needed to fix.
Coaches never really guided me for some reason. They said with me they didn't have to worry, they knew I was going to accomplish something one way or another so they let me be. State, that word circled around me more than anything the year I was regional champ. I knew it was coming, but was I ready for it? Ready or not it came and I placed 6th in the strongest state of the country. TEXAS.
Finally a chance to enjoy myself a bit. But it was back to the dungeon soon after. While others were celebrating I was in that place. Planning on the months to come. You're not going to be a champion by taking months off and I sure as hell know the top guys aren't taking months off. Then next year came and I had gained muscle which bumped me up to another weight class.
Every class is stronger than the previous. So the town was whispering. Its a small town so you hear every whisper. "Was he going to win again". "He's too heavy he wont' be as strong". Little did everyone know with the weight gain, along came strength. And the first meet came and I blew everyone out of the water. It still didn't phase me. But that's when expectations came. And pressure. Let me tell you something about pressure. Pressure is all around you and it crashes down on you like a flood in a cave.
Every where I went that "state" word was there. I was tired of hearing of it. Everyone I saw would ask "you going to state this year". "Cant wait to see you at state." That's pressure. The pressure of an entire town on you. Waiting for you to bring them pride. and if you failed, you brought the town shame. The pressure of an entire town bared more weight on me than any bar has ever had.
That's when i realized something. Many of us are born with a glass ceiling. It's there above our heads, shining and showing you its there. I knew I had to be one of the few that climbs to the top and shatters that glass. Giving opportunity and hope to others with the same drive. That year I gave it all I had.
Everything was going as planned. Until I suffered a loss that would almost make me quit altogether. Weeks before my regional meet, one of the most important meets of the year. The meet that would qualify me for state. I lost one of the most important women in my life. My mom away from mom. My grandmother. Other than my mom pushing me, she was
one of the main reasons I would compete. She would always have faith in me and push me.
When I lost her I was devastated! I didn't think I had the strength to go on and what was worse, the regional meet was a day after the funeral almost 300 miles away. The bus with the team would leave 3 days before the meet. I was stuck with a choice. Go and compete, what for? That was the last thing on my mind. Or stay for the funeral. I didn't make a decision till the 2 days before. That night, my mom showed me that you can choose between
your choices, or with the help from your family you can create your own choice.
The next day my mom took a couple of days off to drive me to the meet. We made it the night before the meet and honestly, I didn't feel like competing. If it wasn't for a pep talk from my mom I wouldn't have gave it my all. That night, I dedicated that meet for my grandma no matter what the outcome was. Through the whole meet I was numb. Even more quite than usual. I didn't care if I won or lost. In my eyes this was the biggest challenge of my life.
As quickly as the meet started, it ended. I don't know where I got the strength from but that was my best meet yet. I put all my frustration and pain into those lifts and accomplished something I nor my coaches never thought was possible. I not only won the meet, but I won pound for pound the best lifter award for the midweights. From the 114lb weight class to the 180's I was the best overall lifter.
I had never won that and it was an accomplishment I didn't win on my own. My mom and grandma were the 2 reasons for that accomplishment. When I returned home there was a gathering of my family after the funeral. When I arrived, I felt as if I had brought this win for my grandma and my family. My family was proud and told me she would've been proud. It felt unreal. The meet I had dedicated for my grandma was the meet I went above and beyond. I remember vividly Getting home and hugging my dad crying saying I did it, I did it.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I took 4th in one of the strongest weight classes at the state meet. My family was there. It was good seeing their faces and their pride when their last name was up on the records of state. One thing I will always remember was, something one of my uncles that was in North Carolina at the time said. He wanted to hear them call out the names when they gave the medals. He said he dropped the phone when he heard our last name.
Sat down shocked to hear it. Never could imagine it would be said at an event like that. Tears rolled down his eyes when he heard our last name go into the record books. That's when you learn about accomplishment. I had to grow up earlier than everyone else. I had to endure what most adults can't even fathom. But I would never trade it back. Never regret. For it is what molded me to be the person I am today, and the person I'm destined to be.
I still have the itch, and that itch will never fade or go away. But it's what gives me purpose. And with purpose comes good things. This is what drove me to become a personal trainer. It allows me to help others. The things I learned on my own and through school allows me to take my clients to the next level. It is what keeps me dedicated to my client's success.