Dec 16, 2012


By Josh Hunt

I’ve always been a fan of the under and not appreciated. This may be the reason why I am a huge metalhead and have been to Scandinavian countries to pay homage to great bands like: Immortal, In Flames, Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved, Amon Amarth, and other really gnarly heavy ensembles. This may also be a reason why I am avid comic book fan and watch line play when the NFL is on. I think this fascination with things that aren’t totally understood or accepted has helped guide my path to find powerliftering. It’s a sport that if you think about it, it makes perfect sense, but the sport is still on the extremis. Due to this, it doesn’t surprise me that that something stripped down, dirty, miserable, and all around crusty has made me pretentious and introspective. This thing that I speak of is the hardcore gym that I train at.

I lift at an old school, turn-key, small building without air conditioning. This place is a sight to behold. I’ve seen mushroom grow in the moist corners and spider webs so large that if you took a broom and twisted it these webs you’d get something that resembled a giant disgusting cotton candy. We have load bearing girly posters and I don’t even want to put my socked foot on the ground. I’m convinced the mortar has been repaired with sweat particulates, bondo, the glue on from the back of duct tape, and humidity. Our gym is located directly behind a pizza shop which smells’ waft in every time the door is opened, and make me want to quit squatting and eat in the winter, or want to vomit in the summer. Frankly, I am surprised that I haven’t caught a blood borne illness from this place.

The guys that I lift with are just as colorful as they gym. I’ve seen five pound weights and/or ladders fly through the air and bounce off the wall when a big lift happens. There are jokes so off color it would make Raw era Eddie Murphy blush with shame. We belittle each other between sets constantly. Unusual lifts happen on the regular. For example; it is not uncommon to see wide grip benchpress with micro mini bands and chains or shirted reverse band benchpess in the squat rack. When it comes down to it, the entire experience is like working out in a mix between mad scientist’s lab and the dungeon of Snake Mountain with a dysfunctional family living inside.

When I tell folks on the “outside” about this place they ask why the hell would I pay to work out at a place like this? The answer is simple; this place is where you need to go to become strong. This hardcore gym acts as an athletic filter. It keeps people out that aren’t serious. No one that isn’t willing to sacrifice creature comforts would ever even step foot in this place. There aren’t pretty boys with their Men’s Health workouts sitting on the bench and watching girls walk by. There aren’t dudes on the lat pull down machine inserting the pin too far down on the weight stack and belting out the “look at me” grunts. There are just serious folks that want to do one thing, crush weight and get strong. The attitude is if you work out here, you come to train, bitching will only be accepted at the lowest levels. This attitude can be felt when walking through the door, and if you aren’t here to help make the people inside and yourself stronger you have no right to be in this temple of effort. To me this is a beautiful thing, it is primal, and exudes a focus so intense it could burn a hole like a laser through a know-it-all fitness buff in seconds. This scenario is aesthetics versus function one, where in aesthetics have been taken outside, tied to a post, beaten, and left for dead. Only function remains, and in this case that is all you need to become a strong man.

The guys who I lift with will be the first people to make a cutting joke at your expense. But, they will also be the guys that you can count on when things gets tough. They will drop what they are doing, come in, help you get into a bench shirt, and give you candid useful information on what you are doing improperly or what you can improve upon. This isn’t the crap “help” that you get at Gold’s gym where your spotter basically deadlifts the weight off of you when you’re benchpressing and tells you “this is all you man, I’m barely helping.” This isn’t the horrible advice some skinny guy with weightlifting gloves gives you because he used to train with a guy who could incline benchpress 225 pounds 35 times. These men who work out at my hardcore gym hold years and years of powerlifting knowledge and experience. There is a sense of brotherhood that develops by working out at a crapbox like my gym, which I am not sure exists in other places. However, this sense of family doesn’t just come; it has to be earned through showing your dedication and desire and putting forth an effort that some people will never know. This gym is a factory that will take the raw material that is fledgling lifter and make them into something great, as long as that lifter is willing to put in the effort and forsake the bunk that exists in the mainstream. As I see it people who go to these hardcore institutions whether it be a gym, a school, or a club, show that they really want to become more than just average at what it is they do, or are passionate about a certain matter or subject. These hardcore industrial betterment factories create a roughing possess that knocks all the crust off and produces a shiny gem. Sometimes things are lost is the shuffle, most of the time this attrition can be attributed to people saying that want to do or be more, but unwilling to pay the price. It doesn’t matter if one wants to become a lifter, a fighter, a poet, or a musician, you need to go to the place that can help mold you into what you want to be and make sacrifices that a regular Joe wouldn’t. You have to pay the piper, but choosing the right piper is part of the task.

When it comes down to it you have to ask yourself what are you will to do to accomplish your goals? As the old adage goes: “if it were easy, everyone would do it.” This is a very true statement. If becoming a strong powerlifter, poignant musician, hell a good man, were simple there would be a lot more of all three. I am a mediocre powerlifter with the intent of becoming a good lifter, and the goal of becoming great. I am not going to do this at the local gym; I am going to have to forgo the comforts of air conditioning and people who coddle me. I realize that I have to be willing to do things and prepare myself in ways the general populous can’t understand. But this isn’t a bad thing; how many “normal people” can even benchpress their own body weight? This goes for other facets of life as well. I hate running, but I respect people that do and if running a marathon were easy then I’d see a lot more 26.2 stickers and a lot less 13.1 stickers.

I think in life you have to pay something in order to get what you want, this currency could be; money, time, emotion, or effort, nothing is free. Things that are easy usually aren’t points of pride, and if they are you should really take a few minutes to analyze that victory. With that in mind ask yourself what it is you want, and what are you willing to pay in order to get it? In my case it’s lifting in a seedy little sweatbox and foregoing comfort, when it gets down to it, for me it’s getting a little crusty.

– “Are we alive or just breathing?” Killswitch Engage.

Josh Hunt a California native has been involved in several sports at the
organized, intramural, high school, collegiate, national, and international
levels.  He began weight lifting at fourteen for football and has continued
in the sport into the present.  He currently is a resident of the Metro East
St. Louis suburbs and has been competing in the USAPL since 2009.  He trains
at the Belleville Weightlifting Club, lifting in full power lifting meets
and bench press meets, raw, and geared.  He is an avid traveler and food


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  1. Samwise G /

    I love it! More more more!

  2. LOVE the “it’s all you man” reference. Nothing more frustrating than getting a “bro tap” on your last rep of a heavy set and having your effort stolen from you.

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