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Getting weight off my shoulders

POSTED July 31, 2009 10:11 p.m.
In high school I dreaded the weight room.
There were all these magnificent bodies with superhuman-like strength, taking a dumbbell and tossing it up to the sky like they were practicing for the shot put — and these were the girls. The guys generally bench-pressed twice their body weight and celebrated with fist bumps.
I struggled with the bar.
It was tough being a skinny kid who played sports. People generally think athletes are loaded with muscles and able to lift their girlfriends in the air. In high school, this was the kind of stuff I thought about. At the same time, I never gave myself enough credit. I had a ton of energy. I had the endurance of a Michael Bay film, full of excitement and explosion for three hours at a time. That was one reason why I enjoyed basketball, as you play with an object that can be described in ounces.
But lately, I’ve been trying to change my ways. A gym membership can do that. So the other day I wanted to test out my strength. I invited a high school friend to meet me at the gym. He had no idea what I wanted to accomplish.
And then I let it slip: “I want to bench-press my own weight.”
This was a very ambitious goal for someone as skinny as myself, someone who struggled with the bar in high school. I remember not having weights on either side — just the lonely bar running above my chest. There was never a need for a spotter.
I’d extend my hands to both ends of the bar, checking to see if a classmate in the P.E. class decided to add on a few pounds without my permission. I’d slide my body underneath the bar and lay on the bench, looking at something I couldn’t avoid.
One ... two ... three ... four ... five reps.
I’d grunt — a little ugh.
That’s right, I’d say to myself.
I dominated 45 pounds.
But I’m older now, so I can’t mess with little kid weight anymore. I can’t mess around at the gym since I have such a high monthly rate. And I can’t simply mess around in general because I seem to be going through a mild quarter-life crisis, evident by the fact that I’m never satisfied with a lot of the things I do.
My friend just offered a little nod. We both grabbed two large plates of 35 pounds and placed them on each end of the bar. This time I needed a spotter. I attempted the rep. My friend said I made it look too easy, so he suggested two more reps. I succeeded, and we added 10 more pounds. And surprisingly, I survived that one, too.
Then, we put on another five pounds. I failed. But I got up and glanced at the mirror. I was relieved at what I saw staring back at me: Someone who got rid of a ghost.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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