I saw a quote from Roger Federer the other day, and it was one of those moments when you say to yourself, “Fuck yes. This person GETS it.”
The quote was: “Sometimes you’re just happy playing. Some people, some media unfortunately don’t understand that it’s okay just to play tennis and enjoy it. They always think you have to win everything, it always needs to be a success story, and if it’s not obviously what is the point. Maybe you have to go back and think, Why have I started playing tennis? Because I just like it. It’s actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don’t get that ever.”
I had several years where weightlifting consumed me. I was training six days per week and often doing double sessions. And, yes, I technically got where I wanted to go. I achieved my short term goals. But, wow, was I a mess in so many ways.
For me, it was more than lifting. My life was also a mess. But, I certainly wasn’t having fun lifting. It was a huge source of stress.
It took me literally changing almost every aspect of my life to get to the point where I could find lifting fun again. I am there now, but I also don’t have the time to train like I was before. Lately, I train once or twice a week. It’s never for long.
It’s always for fun.
I am slowly trying to get back to training more often BECAUSE I find it fun. But, I would keep myself in self-imposed exile if I thought for a minute that training seriously again would stop being fun. It’s taken a lot for me to get to a mentally healthy and happy place, and I am not about to backslide because of a sport.
I don’t care what anyone says. Weightlifting is JUST a game. It’s supposed to be fun in the way that tetherball or Galaga is fun. Nick says it’s supposed to be fun like Mario Kart, but I’ve never played Mario Kart. I know that is probably heresy to some people.
One of the reasons I love being a coach and a gym owner is that I get to help people have fun. We simply don’t allow people to take themselves seriously. It has to be fun for you whether you are amazing or whether you completely suck. Throw a tantrum about missing lifts, and you will actually find yourself kicked out of the gym. You don’t have the right to mess up other people’s fun. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, but now I know how much fun the game can be.
I recognize that many weightlifters don’t understand how “sucking” at weightlifting could be fun, but it’s relative like anything else. When you head to the park to screw around or play in a rec league, you can completely whiff trying to kick a soccer ball AND STILL HAVE FUN. It happens all the time.
I am here to tell you that if you never win a local meet, if you never qualify for a national meet, if you never learn how to catch a snatch in a full squat, if you always power snatch and always power clean, if you always get excited over every single PR even if you are snatching 25 kg, IT IS OKAY. It is okay to have fun weightlifting even if you don’t care what’s on the bar. In fact, I think it’s better that way.
I’d rather have a sport full of people having fun than a sport full of people who think that no one is ever good enough.
It’s just a game. If you want to be great at it, then be great at it. But, don’t let your greatness affect other people’s fun. As amazing as you will ever be at weightlifting, remember that it might as well be Mario Kart.
Just a game.