Zen and the art of silent weight-training. – NC17 in a PG world

It’s not ideal, but I’m just that hardcore.

I’m not to be deterred!

I’ve done it, regularly, 3 days each week, more or less, since I was a teen. There have been down periods, of course. A fractured neck, sporadic back injuries, annoying life commitments — but through it all, I’ve managed to lift weights consistently for a good portion of my life.

I’ve never joined a gym. I don’t like people, and I especially don’t like them when I’m pushing iron, and the prospect of lifting in a public gym surrounded by those horrible gym people sends a shiver down my spine. So being the asocial fitness rat, I have always resorted to lifting weights, in temporal ascending order:

  1. In the garage: My Living-At-Home-With-Parents and Married periods of house living. This was the best arrangement. I was free to make a racket, to let the bars and plates down heavily and recklessly, and otherwise not be troubled by the shattering clanking of weight equipment. There were no adjoining walls or neighbors in close proximity to fret over. Loud music was not unheard of.
  2. In the bedroom and living room of my one-bedroom apartments: Single living in Hollywood, mid-90’s, and again, post-divorce, in East L.A. in the 2000’s, and married in Montebello. Not super ideal, but doable. Obviously, I needed to temper the noise due to downstairs neighbors. Occasional weight accidents aroused some ire and concern, but generally this arrangement was not a hindrance.
  3. My condo balcony. Present living arrangement and least ideal. The limitations are similar to the apartment arrangements but even more austere since the sound on a patio carries wildly. In fact, any little sound that might have been muffled by carpeting previously is now amplified on the sharp brick and stucco external surfaces outside. Not to mention, my fiance who seems to have the most sensitive noise-registering apparatus I’ve ever witnessed in a human ear.

Number 3, though the most limiting, actually befits me best at this stage in my weighttraining life.

In my 50’s, lifting weights has evolved into a mindful, Zen experience in which the slow plodding repetitious arcing of barbell, accompanied by exertions and scaled breathing, creates a serene, rhythmic physical chant. I lift to soft, Indian music or other relaxation-friendly instrumentation and vocals. All that’s missing is the incense.

My focus is now the maintenance of a steady calm in the face of the iron’s destructive, bellowing nature; I must maintain peaceful equanimity with a couple hundred pounds on my shoulders. It’s very soothing and strengthening. The restrictions prevent me from pushing for higher numbers or testing my 1RM. Lifting to failure is not an option when half the building will hear, vividly, if I drop even a 10-pound plate. I must lift smart and mindfully, and besides, at my age, retaining a constant muscle mass in an energized state, is most important. Three-hundred pound dead-lifts were once a nice personal attainment (easily over 2x my body weight), but I redefine my “success” now. It’s less about noise, more about voracious silence.

In fact, the idea of lifting weights in a loud, crowded gym is more repugnant to me than ever. I’ll take the balcony.

East Los Angeles apartment, date stamp self-explanatory. Carpeted sound absorption was the best!

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !

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