Written by John Dlugosz
To explain the reasons behind why I train, what motivates me to go to the gym, and how fitness has positively impacted my life, I have to first tell a story about myself.
Before I begin, know that there has always been one central theme – the gym and being active.
I grew up very active – I was the captain of the track team in high school and enjoyed dirt bike racing growing up. In the summer of 2010, I noticed something was going on with my body. There was a disconnect between what my brain was telling my body to do and what I was actually doing. This could be seen in my gait and listening to my speech.
It is very strange feeling when you are telling your brain to walk but can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other. Or trying to speak but the words just end up sounding like gibberish.
I decided to not tell my family I wasn’t feeling right because I didn’t want it to prevent me going to college. I just had to hope I would start feeling like my old self, that didn’t happen.
After what felt like hundreds of doctor’s appointments and MRIs, I finally knew what was going on.
I had Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
For those that don’t know, MS is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. As you can probably imagine, this made a huge impact on my life and has shaped who I am today.
After being diagnosed, I became very depressed. It felt like my world had ended and I would no longer be able to achieve any personal goals.
That all changed when I started going to the gym.
Slowly but surely, I was able to notice improvements not only in my physical health, but mental health as well. My balance was – and still is – the hardest part. At the start I had no idea what I was doing, but always knew that I could overcome this disabling disease if I set a goal.
My goal was to squat 400#. Being committed to the gym and training helped me stay focused, not only on gym related goals, but goals like graduating college and obtaining a full time job.
I am proud to say that I hit a 400# back squat earlier this year. It feels amazing to have finally reached this goal, but now I need a new one to keep my focus with training. As of right now I have two goals in mind I want to reach the top 5 at P360 for the back squat and put 225# overhead.
Now that you know about my past, I want to share the benefits I get from the gym and training. The gym gave me a place where I didn’t focus on all the negative aspects of MS and could just focus on completing my workout.
For me, training is a place that I can get away from life and just focus on the weights. My training philosophy has always been that you spend all day on your legs, so make them as strong as possible. I can afford to sacrifice an hour a few times a week knowing that I have made a small step in the big journey to becoming more. That is what drove me to the gym during the hard years, and still drives me to this day. This is what drives me to the 6am classes at P360, to eat healthy, and just plain and simple, attack every challenge that comes my way.
I will be the first to say making it to the gym Monday to Friday by 6am is hard. I do it because I know that after each workout I will feel like Iaccomplished something and made myself a better person.
Training has changed my outlook on life.
I and have started to approach life knowing that I will be able to overcome any challenge thrown my way. I graduated from SDSU just four and a half years after my diagnosis and at the same time as my fellow high school graduates, something I would have thought impossible as a freshmen.
All the coaches at P360 always tell the members to track your weights. For me, this is the something that I have always done. Not to the extreme, but I always remembered so that the next time I go to the gym I have a number to try and beat. That little more each week translates to hundreds of pounds in the long run. Be proud of your small accomplishments while training. Whether that be adding 5lbs to your squat PR or carving 10 seconds off your mile time.
The reason I train is not to be the strongest, fastest, or the most athletic person in the gym, it is simply to be better than I was yesterday. Every one of us will have an obstacle that will seem impossible to overcome, but that is the time to put your head down and get to work. I believe that everyone should train. It is just a matter of finding your reason on how you Become More.