I love the look on my face in this picture. It really sums up my entire experience when I weight trained ‘for real’. This wasn’t something I was planning on getting into, and it isn’t something that I have done over the years. It just happened. And it was an amazing experience in body, mind and soul. Really.
It all started when I needed a place to shower so that I could ride my bike to work. I found the gym that was closest to my office building, and walked in to inquire about membership.
An unexpected opportunity presented itself. There was a package that I could buy that included some personal training sessions. Something inside tugged at me to sign up. So I did. I didn’t think about it again until the winter months presented themselves. I had been working out on my own during lunch hour, and was quickly getting bored. I was really keen to stay in shape through the winter months so I could enjoy the short cycling season when it finally came again.
So, I decided to try out the training sessions that I had signed up for. I quickly fell in love with the one on one time. I learned a lot, and pushed harder than I would when I worked out on my own. But, after only a few sessions, the trainer that I had been working with had decided to move on to another opportunity. I was happy for her, but was going to miss my sessions.
I didn’t waste any time. I dropped by the gym on a coffee break to find out who I would be partnered with to continue my sessions. When they introduced me to this ‘young kid’, I thought to myself, “what is this guy going to do for me?”. I should have known better than to judge a book by it’s cover! When I asked him when he would have time to go over what I expected, he immediately made time. He took in every demand I spouted, and enthusiastically took notes. I was intrigued.
The first time I worked out with Mikey V (as I called him), I was hooked. I found him to be extremely knowledgeable, very passionate about health and fitness, and able to push me beyond my expectations for a gym routine. After being outside on my bike all summer, and now cooped up in an office all day, I would often show up to these 1 hour sessions full of punch. He harnessed all that attitude and energy and directed it into a fun, effective, and challenging physical channel of difficult moves that weren’t for the faint of heart. This guy was serious. All unfair judgements I had dissolved in an instant.
Mikey V would often work me through multiple workouts in one session. He would not stop until I was exhausted. I loved the feeling of pushing my limits, even though I was stuck indoors. I was excited about being in great shape when the weather turned and I was able to be outside again. It was really hard to find a satisfying outlet when I was stuck behind a desk during the best hours of the day. By the time I got home, it would already be dark. The weekends were challenging as there was so many things to get done that simply didn’t get touched during the week. But knowing how much fun and how challenging my workouts with Mikey V would be, it added a level of excitement to my scheduled week, and left me feeling physically challenged and ready for a recovery day by the time Saturday rolled around.
As time went on, I continued to thoroughly enjoy these sessions. Then one day, Mikey V placed a big ass pair of weights hooked onto either end of bar directly in front of me. He showed me the correct form for a Deadlift, and then told me to lift the weights. I retorted with a rather snarky, “are you kidding”? He basically told me to shut up and do it. So, I did.
This was my first exposure to what I am referring to as ‘real weight’ training. I guess it is really known as heavy lifting or Olympic lifting. Little did I know this was only the beginning. I had no idea that weight training could be such an all in activity, and that a clear focus and belief in myself would be so important in the gym.
It wasn’t long before Mikey V introduced me to the Clean, and then the Jerk. The first time I attempted to put the whole thing together, it was less than smooth. I just couldn’t really ‘get it’. The form is tough, the concentration must be deep, and as I said, you really need to believe in yourself to do this move. I walked away really wanting to get this. It was the perfect workout for the place I was in at that point in my fitness and life journey. There were hints of a big adventure coming up for me, and I knew I was going to have to be physically and mentally ready. Or as ready as possible.
Soon the clean and jerk became a regular part of my sessions with Mikey V. We would often do them at the end of the week when I would be able to have a recovery day the next day, and needed to end the week off with a bang. My form improved and the amount of weight I could lift increased. This was in large part due to the encouragement and guidance from Mike. He was right there, watching every bit of my form, and helping me to believe that I could do this. After a really good clean and jerk session, I could feel every part of my body, and walked away with such a sense of accomplishment.
Even on the days that I wasn’t working out with Mike, he would find me in the gym and make sure I was challenging myself. He would create workouts for me to do on my own and send them to me so I could challenge myself and grow my repertoire. He went above and beyond what I had once expected from him. His wealth of knowledge and ability to respond to my individuality was amazing.
As we got closer to the cycling season, he targeted some areas that would specifically be important to my riding. I learned moves that I had never heard of before. He was prepping me all around for a very successful season.
We parted ways when an opportunity presented itself, and the adventure that had been hinting its way into my life made a full appearance. This adventure would take me to places I had never been. Through the entire adventure I stayed in touch with Mikey V. He there, sending me workouts that I could do on the road to stay in form for the extremely challenging rides that were a big part of this adventure. When I returned, he was there to help me continue my fitness journey, and to continue to find a way to push myself after coming down from the high of some amazing feats.
I look back at this as the time when I got ‘really strong’. I will always remember and cherish those workouts and moments with Mikey V!!!