“The iron doesn’t judge.”

The pitter-patter of a light rain against the pavement breaks the silence of the early morning. There is a biting chill in the air as I stand in the front doorway of my house, staring into the ether. An aura of calmness takes over me as I reflect on the intense moments to come. The rain slows to a slight drizzle and I step out onto the dampened sidewalk. I throw the hood of my sweatshirt over my head and begin to jog towards my destination. It’s time to pray at the altar of Iron

I’ve always been the kind of guy who let the stresses of life build up inside. I’d find myself getting angry at the most mundane things. I would lash out at others and would feel a constant unease deep within my soul. I knew I needed a change; I just wasn’t sure what kind. Then one day I watched a movie called Pumping Iron and all the puzzle pieces fell into place. I knew what I needed to do.

From that moment on I decided to dedicate my days to not just improving my physique, but my mind as well. To truly become one with yourself, you need to drive out weakness and turn it into strength. Many people ask me why I find such joy in doing something so strenuous—something done in such complete solitude.

Why, indeed?

Arriving at the gym after a 20 minute jog, I unlock the door and enter. It’s pitch black as no one else has yet come to illuminate the darkness of the temple. I set my backpack off to the side and flip on the lights. With a few flickers of the fluorescent tubes on the ceiling, the musty basement gym fills with color. I start my workout without hesitation.

Training puts my mind at ease. Even though I’m putting massive stress upon my body, I’m at my most relaxed when I’m training. All the stresses of the world fade away and there is nothing but me and the iron. There are no judging eyes criticizing my every move. No responsibility weighing me down like an albatross hanging from my neck. The only thing present is my pride, my will, and my determination to get better. The iron doesn’t judge. It doesn’t criticize. Even though it weighs heavy upon my body, the iron never holds me down. If anything, it lifts me up—freeing me from the problems of my own mind. The iron does not need anything from me. It’s simply there, and it’s me who needs it.

As the perspiration drips from my chin, I hit the last rep of my workout. Standing in front of the mirror, I pull my hoodie off and take a long hard look at myself. What once was a soft, weak body, is now hardened like that of a warrior. Many years of blood and sweat have gone into carving this living statue. No matter where life may take me, no one thing can ever take away the hard work I’ve put in.

For even if it was just an hour out of my day, I lived without fear, shame, regret, or concern for the future. In that hour the only thing that mattered was the iron. The need for improving. The fire blazing inside of me allowing me to complete feats that I’ve never before considered myself capable of.

I put my hoodie and backpack on, then I head to the door. Before I leave, I take one last look back at the temple of iron in which I’ve spent so many lonely nights and darkened mornings. I flip the lights off and head back out into the world.

The sun is barely peeking over the horizon—causing the morning light to bounce off the dewy blades of grass. As the hustle of city life takes hold of the day, I’m reminded of why I chose this path in life. Why do I spend so much time alone—breaking down my body? Why do I enjoy the solitude of a dark gym without anything but the iron to keep me company?

Why, indeed?



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