Hanging Out With Meatheads
When I was in college, I used to spend too much time in the gym. There was a group of us that would always come to train at the same time, share platforms, bars, and talk about training. We probably would have bugged the daylights out of all the staff, but we all decided to work at the rec center so it never became a problem. We also all got really strong, and had a good support network for each other.
I missed those days, until a friend of mine opened up a performance based gym of his own down the road from the facility I train out of. While during the week I train out of the facility I manage, I make it a point to go train on the weekends and spend time around the handful of Meatheads that gather to train there.
I think people largely do not understand Meatheads, because often the stereotype is some guy who has a one track mind around lifting weights and being in the gym. But most people likely do not know Meatheads like I've gotten to know them over the past eight years or so. By any definition I may also be classified as one, so the misunderstanding of this subset of individuals is probably warranted. But behind the one track mind and beefy bodies is often a cerebral or introspective mind that many do not know about.
Of all of my friends, the most passionate and mindful ones are those who spend countless hours chasing goals that have no rewards other than the feeling of accomplishment. There is no money in chasing PRs, nor lots of public recognition. Yet Meatheads seem to place a high amount of effort into this personal achievement, and spend time focused on becoming the best possible version of themselves. Intrinsic motivation or, rather, discipline is a major defining quality.
I think the stereotype that most people place upon the Meatheads is that they're dumb, but brains and brawn are often two qualities that do go together. I have never met more cerebral or deep thinking individuals than the one who is pushing the limits of their physical strength. Every breath matters. How could it not? When 500+ pounds is sitting on your shoulders, breathing patterns become crucial in stabilizing your spine as to avoid injury. It's also near impossible to shrug your shoulders upward and heave a breath with that much weight on you. Intent and execution, an inward look at how things are accomplished, starts in the mind; which Meatheads seem to have a higher awareness of. The programming matters as well, and strong individuals tend to be the ones who share and compare ideas on how to achieve maximum strength through the planning of training. The documentary Westside Vs. The World (available on Netflix) highlighted how a small gym and one short bald guy revolutionized training via the planning of training. Meatheads spend hours talking about these things, and when disagreements come they often just shrug their shoulders, add another plate to the bar, and keep lifting without making a big deal about. Which is why I love Meatheads.
Something I think is unique to the Meathead is the worldview they develop. You wouldn't believe how many of these bulky, mammoths of men read books of every genre. The first time I read Man's Search For Meaning (Viktor Frankl) was after hearing it listed as a suggested read on a Powerlifting podcast. You probably don't think of Meathads being the type to discuss religion, the meaning of life, Stoicism, or Greek Mythology, but I've had more heart-to-heart conversations with the guy in the squat rack next to me than I have with individuals in churches or non-training centered organizations.
Now, there are bad seeds in every bunch. Admittedly, there are still some dumb Meatheads out there. But after spending so much time around these individuals, I've found them to be some of the best friends I could ask for. And I'll gladly consider myself one any day.