Today is weightlifting day. I find weightlifting to be a meditative activity, you are quite alone with yourself and doing something so basic that if you concentrate on it, you can really understand your body in ways that are difficult otherwise. The mere act of hoisting a large weight over your head is a lot like chanting or praying. I don’t have a good explanation for that thought, I suppose that you just have to do it and then you can understand what I mean by that. The isolation in the midst of a crowded class is a strange feeling as well. Everyone has their eyes forward and seem to be marshaling into themselves in order to preform the next task. I suspect that it’s the concentration you have to exert in order to do your best, and the series of actions you have to do in order to prepare and execute. There is a sort of Western ritual you do before you start: get out the blocks, perch the bench on them, cover with a pad, get your weights (this varies as to how long you have been doing this), choose your pole and get the clips. Arrange it all in whatever pattern makes it easier for you to change up in the middle of your class. Start.

We start off with warm ups, then directly into a series of lifting exercises where we do the classic “clean and press” which is taking the weight up over our heads. Sometimes we are required to do this over and over, up to 6 times in one memorable occasion. I don’t remember this as being particularly difficult (though I am sure it was) but it was more in balancing the time you had to do it. Up, pause, down (pay attention to your muscles and how they unfold and take themselves back to their original shape), hang the whole thing down for a split second, back up again defying gravity, over your head and feel your elbows settle down on your upper arm bones, back down. Do all this very close to your body. Pay attention to every aspect of it.

Maybe that is the key, the attention you have to pay to it all, you are fully aware in one sector of your life, aided by your monkey instincts, for one brief second you feel like the most able and victorious of people. Maybe that is the reason you keep coming back to it. The fabulous illusion of invincibility.

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