benchmarksblog

WHAT I LEARN FROM LIFTING & PLAYING

Category: LIFTING

HEARING, LISTENING

When I was recording with the trio this week, the first take was pretty uneven on my part because I could not hear myself in the studio.

So I asked for a pair of play-back headsets.

And when I could listen to the bass player and the drummer, things went pretty smoothly after that.

Likewise, I heard my ego tell me to attempt the bravado of squatting 315lbs, which I hadn’t done in a while, but I figured I could manage since I had only just deadlifted the same weight for three reps.

However, at 275lbs, I decided to listen to my body and stop. I ended up getting a good workout at that weight with two sets for three repetitions each set, and most importantly, no injuries.

Today, I heard a complete stranger (but regular) at the gym “feel the need to compliment” me on my weight loss.

I absolutely hate it when people display their ignorance. Especially when they have idea what I’m doing, or what process with which I’m engaged.

I have the feeling that this person wouldn’t dare to comment on a woman’s body in this day and age.

I expect the same social courtesy.

So I’m not listening.

But, clearly, I’m pissed.

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STAY HUMBLE, HUSTLE HARDER

The thing about New Year’s resolutions is that they can really turn against you.

 

Remember how last year was supposed to be: more glitter, less bitter?

 

I must have used a billion gallons of glitter to offset the million incidents that could have turned my heart black(er) with malice.

 

Good thing, I buy my glitter wholesale and in bulk.

 

So I’m wondering what it will mean this year to: stay humble, hustle harder.

 

Already, on my first day back at work I got bitched out for something I didn’t do, which I am pretty damn sure I wasn’t told to do in the first place.

 

I stayed humble by biting my tongue, then apologizing for the miscommunication, even though it wasn’t mine, and just walked away, fuming in very reticent silence.

 

Now, I’m anticipating what kind of unforeseen road to personal growth hell is paved with the intention of hustling harder.

 

Maybe, I should continue to keep stocking up on that glitter.

TINKERBELL

At this time of year, there are many new faces in the gym during my regular training hours.

 

Some people are getting a head start on their New Year’s resolutions.

 

And some other people are there because they are on vacation from work or simply home for the holidays.

 

Today, as I am changing out in the locker room to leave, two college boys are arriving.

 

It’s just the three of us in there and the boys aren’t particularly muscular or good looking, so I’m paying them absolutely no attention.

 

While trying to get my snow boots on without having to untie and retie the laces, I hear one of them mention something “hysterial, yo, that (his) uncle said at Christmas dinner.”

 

He elaborates, “What with all this having to be politically correct and everything, my uncle’s new code for gay is ‘Tinkerbell’, you know, because gay guys stand like that fairy with their limp wrists.”

 

I am laughing internally while keeping a straight face because I do think it’s hysterical.

 

Not because homophobia is funny, but because these guys think that Tinkerbell is actually the gayest character in Peter Pan.

 

One of the trainers walks in,

 

“Looking good big guy,” he says to me.

 

“Must be all that Tinkerbell fairy dust I use while trying to lift with my limp wrist,” I reply as I walk out to my car.

 

I’ll explain what I meant to the trainer tomorrow.

 

But for now, I just wanted to see the look on their faces when two clueless lost boys realized they had accidentally wandered into my Neverland.

IN A PINCH

I wake up one morning to a text message from a co-worker, of a screen shot from Yelp, the restaurant review site, and a ‘laughing until I’m crying’ emoji face.

 

A guest comment reads, “otherwise a great place to dine … watch out for the Asian piano player, he likes to pinch butts.”

 

At first, I giggle.

 

Because not only is it untrue, it seems like a pretty ridiculous and immature statement.

 

And then, reason suddenly kicks in.

 

I begin to feel anxiety over the possible real world consequences of someone throwing out such an allegation of sexual harassment against me.

 

“Have I been Weinsteined?” I text to about 30 people, along with the incriminating screen shot, “and should I be lawyering up right now?”

 

After extensive teasing, the general consensus is that an anonymous post on a less than reputable website bears no weight. Those who have Yelp accounts go the extra mile to report the post as being malicious and slander, so it can hopefully be taken down. Furthermore, I am reminded, my boss who reads Yelp reviews religiously hasn’t even mentioned it, and I’ve already been working two weeks since the post.

 

So I am advised to not loose any sleep over it.

 

To trust the sweet baby Jesus who has always fixed, provided and protected.

 

To not talk about it anymore and make matters worse.

 

To just laugh it off and not give it any more power.

 

But those things are easier said than done when upset.

 

So I go to the gym and work out my aggression with leg presses, hack squats, leg extensions and lunges.

 

This will have to do for now, in a pinch.

THEM CALVES

Another trainer comes up to us as we are working out and asks, “What did you do to get this boy them big calves?”

 

My coach tells him that I already came to her looking that way and she didn’t have to do anything.

 

But the truth is that I’ve had tiny calves my entire life. I just spent the last year working on them three times a week.

 

And that small exchange motivates me.

 

The going is getting tougher but I am reminded that I’ve already got what it takes.

WISHES COME TRUE, NOT FREE

 

I’m struggling this week with more challenging workouts and more hours in my playing schedule.

 

But I’m not complaining.

 

I asked for a new coach who would be able to help me continue with my training goals. And that’s what I got.

 

I asked not to be short-changed at work on regular hours and extra side gigs. And that’s also what I got.

 

So I’m not complaining.

 

The tightness in my lower back and neck is speaking volumes though.

 

SWEETEST DAY

Sweetest Day this year happened for me a day early.

 

I had been nursing a muscle strain on my right side hip area since Tuesday night.

 

And after a dedicated routine of foam rolling and self Myofascial massage over the next few days, I finally released most of the tension and pain.

 

But the sweetest thing was not in the relief, rather, the experience of knowing exactly what to do.

 

TWO WRONGS AND A RIGHT

Tuesdays are my cheat day and I always have sushi for dinner.

 

This week, a woman walked up to the bar next to me and asked, “Which of these rolls can be deep fried?”

 

And then, when my chef friend reluctantly offered her the cooked up California roll she ordered, the woman asked for a side of ranch to go with it.

 

My own deep fried sushi with a side of ranch showed up for work later in the week in the form of a man who would not stop asking for Benny and the Jets.

 

I don’t honor requests for certain piano bar classics in the restaurant because they just don’t feel appropriate for upscale dinner service.

 

And the nice way to avoid any further confrontation is to say, “We aren’t allowed to play certain types of music here.”

 

But he was highly inebriated, or idiotic, probably both, and wasn’t in the right state of mind to comprehend my shady subtext, so he kept asking.

 

Until another guest walked up, dropped a twenty in my jar, looked me in the eye, and said, “I’ve enjoyed your music all evening.”

 

Which simultaneously restored my faith in humanity and made the man who was bothering me sit back down at his table quietly for the rest of the evening.

 

 

NEW BEGINNINGS

I started working with my new coach this week.

 

She is kind, thoughtful and experienced.

 

As I try to connect with her, and open my heart to her way of programming, she encourages me by complementing my lifting form.

 

So while I am excited to move on and grow with her, I am also painfully conscious of the fact that someone else has given me a great foundation to build on.

 

Even though he is no longer physically present in my life, I have to acknowledge that he will always be an important part of it.

 

HEART & SOUL

I love playing piano duets, so when a guest at the restaurant says she wants to play one with me, I ask, “What song?”

 

As she begins to assure me that I’ll definitely know it, I get wary.

 

“This better not be Heart & Soul,” I warn her.

 

She promises that it absolutely isn’t.

 

But she slides herself onto the bench with me and bangs out the worn out chord progression of the very thing she swore she would not play.

 

I improvise a completely different melody line and remind her of what she had just promised.

 

“I lied,” was the bold faced reply I receive.

 

A few days later, I also decide that lying is the best way to get what I want.

 

In order for me to move on, I tell myself that I’m not heart broken, and that my soul isn’t devastated, because I’m loosing a coach, and a friend, to his commitment to the long process of rehabilitation.