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Therapy Session: Using the Gym in the Face of Stress

Picture this: you are at work. It’s been a stressful day. People you delegated to dropped the ball. Customers called and complained all day long. Your boss asked you to work extra hours this weekend. Someone ate your perfectly zoned lunch you had stored in the refrigerator with your name on it. And the guy in the office next to you insists on singing with the radio.
It hasn’t been a fun day. You keep longing, waiting, wishing for the clock to reach 5:00pm, so you can run out the door and run right to the box. You yearn for the moment you can swing open the gym door and be met with the smell of rubber and the sound of weights hitting the floor.
As you sit at your desk, you swear the clock stopped working. Surely it has been longer than five minutes, right? You know it’s coming, that sweet release of tension that is piling up on your shoulders. Come on, clock! Move! This, my friends, may mean you are using the gym as therapy.
We all have good days, and we all have bad days — that’s just the ebb and flow of life. Whether it is related to work, family, relationships, or money, we can constantly find ourselves in a stressful frame of mind. So how do we handle this? Some eat, some drink, some shop, some cry, some scream. We lift. We run. We head straight for the box. Everyone has heard by now that exercise releases those lovely endorphins that make us happy. We feel better after a workout session. Usually after you catch your breath, of course, the happiness comes. A lot of us use the gym as our therapist and seek the action and feeling we get in the box. That release of endorphins beckons to us throughout our really awful day. It calls to us. It shows us the light at the end of the tunnel.
If you are like me, you have walked in the gym angry, in search of a steel bar and some rubber bumper plates. There is no cure for frustration like that of picking up heavy weight — whatever that number may be for you — and hearing that satisfying clang as it crashes to the ground after a completed lift. It just feels good. Instead of punching people in the face (joking, of course), you pick up the bar, execute a lift, and gratifyingly drop the weight (from no higher than hip level, of course). It soothes the soul. It allows the frustration to fall to the floor with the weights. Soon, you find that the anger is falling away, and those lovely endorphins are creeping in. Ahhh, therapy.
We choose the box to fight the frustrations of life. We choose the box as the place to sweat our troubles away. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, even though others may tell us differently. Why pay a doctor a lot of money when we can bang it out at the box? I’ll meet you at the bar, or I’ll be home to help with the kids, but first I’m going to drop some weight and hang from a rig for an hour. There is no need to call us crazy; this is where we get rid of the crazy.

By Amanda Stewart, CFL1 Trainer, Contributing Writer

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