When I began my journey in the Gym, back in May of 2016, this was the first goal I wrote on my admission form. It is all Daniel Craig’s fault, you know. That scene in Skyfall where they need to physically show 007’s not at 100% and he really looks like he’s struggling with the chin-ups? It always looks so easy when people did it in the Gym, those days before I got serious about exercise. I was right to suppose that this ease hid not only a phenomenal amount of work required but a required physical ability. Both are correct. I’ve spent seventeen months building the muscles in my upper body to a point, late last week, where it was possible to hold my arms at a right angle (at the elbow) on the Roman chair and then let my body back down to straight arms.
That was the reverse pull up, or what I’m told is known as a NEGATIVE.
Yesterday, therefore, my trainer suggested that if I was capable of doing the ‘down’ bit of the pull-up, then going up might not be unreasonable. The problem, however, is the strength required to do an entire movement is considerable. It is a world away from what my brain concieves as doable, but there was undoubtedly one complete movement yesterday, up and down. One Pull Up. Seventeen months to get to this stage. Patience has never been an issue in this entire journey. That was learnt with push-ups. My trainer, right at the beginning, suggested the first stage of competence was to learn how to lift my body off the floor. It would build strength in my arms that didn’t exist, and show her if it was capable for me to create the muscle needed to do the next stage.
This was the Summer we went to New York. Every night we were away I spent 30 minutes after the day’s sightseeing staring at the wooden floor of our apartment. I never once ended up falling on my face, but it was close. 36 press ups were painful, wobbly and continually frustrating. My form was dreadful, I realise now, but I kept going. When I returned from my break to my first PT, my trainer looked at me with almost disbelief and I asked why. She knew I’d done the work, could see it already. That was the moment when she tells me it became apparent that if I wanted something badly enough, I’d put in the work to get it.
It really has taken this long to get here because this is the point where my body is ready. May’s gallbladder hiccup put progress back a bit, but not enough. It was, on reflection, the repair of my umbilical hernia that has been the real key to unlocking core strength and combining that with my upper body. Now everything works together, as should be the case, I find myself just stronger. It manifests in ways I didn’t expect, either, and after what was a pretty intense workout yesterday (clean and press, new core exercises plus the pull up practice) I’ve woken up feeling… well, brilliant.
This is, I suppose, the first part of a process of continual self-development that will never end. Most people will consider an achievement a goal as being the point of their travails: I’m not that person. That could have been me, a few years ago, but not anymore. What matters more right now is finding goals that are achievable at my speed, at my pace and not to stop. I don’t need everything to happen tomorrow. Knowing that things like this are achievable has become enough.
This is the journey into a brighter Universe.