It was the summer of 2009 and I was preparing to begin my studies in Ljubljana.
Where will I train from now on? 50€ for the gym subscription was not within the options. Somehow I will have to arrange… thanks to my uncle at the time I was working in Italy, helping with the work in the vineyard. A hard work, but rewarding and with a solid income.
What if I try to invest this money in setting up a small gym in the house?
All month I was trying to find weights, barbells, pedestals and a bench, choosing between the second hand on the market, until I found the best offers. Concrete weights in a sixth floor apartment on the Šiškenska 2. Hmmmm…
One day the lady from the fifth floor rings at our door and gives us a bag of felt, as if to say that we are making too much noise with the chairs. I smile kindly, thank you and I add that our chairs are already very old. Then comes the neighbor complaining about our way of slamming the doors… ma’am, we have to do a little ‘tour of the air, it’s really too hot! At the end we find a cutout from the newspaper:”To those who make too much noise can cut the electricity”. Shit just got real!
Obviously I have never been so stupid to drop weights from above my head, but it is nonetheless difficult to be gentle with weights. Thank God the neighbors didn’t know what was going on in my apartment, and to maintain good relations with the neighborhood, every spring I offered them freshly picked cherries. In addition to the weights they also had to endure all the racket related to student life.
For four years during the week I trained in 8 square meters. All I had was a barbell with 110 kg of weights, a bench, weights and dumbbells for gym, 2 pedestals and my body of course. A situation not so rosy. But nevertheless I rarely missed the training. I still remember how, in the second year of faculty, we took lessons from 7 in the morning until 9 at night. Then I skipped a few lessons where attendance was not mandatory, I ran to the apartment to do my training and returned to the faculty in time to not miss the other lessons where attendance was mandatory. So: Šiška, Kodeljevo, Šiška, Kodeljevo, Šiška…
That is why I do not believe those who say they have no time to train, as I do not believe those who complain that they do not have the proper conditions to train. It’s a matter of priority: it depends on how much and what you’re really interested in.
During the weekend I trained in my cousin’s garage. Here too we had concrete weights, made by the grandfather. 2x65kg, 2 33,5kg, an unstable bench and two masonry stands used as pedestals. All the equipment was improvised to the point that we made fun with our cousin commenting that we are fucking “Bulgarians” (with the difference that the Bulgarians probably did the heating with our 1RM).
In winter, the garage was close to zero C and in summer there were 30 C, but we did not miss our training. In fact, not only did we not skip it, no, we had fun. Techno music, the weights slamming to the ground and the smell of tobacco from the pippa of the grandfather who was putting in place the tractor with his typical comment :”Good guys, good, but not exaggerate!”
All this until yesterday, when I finally received my first Olympic barbell and new weights bumper. Every time my eyes fall on my new equipment, my eyes light up. The difference is obviously like day and night, but I still don’t want to belittle my good, old-fashioned concrete weights. In the end it is thanks to the latter that I have made progress and learned many things. Probably, if I had joined a gym at the time, my progress would have been greater and I would not have been isolated in my apartment. On the other hand, having had limited equipment, I was forced to think and learn to make the most of what I had.
What was it that pushed me to do this? Just the fact that I love lifting weights. The feeling that I feel when I’m standing up to heavier weights from day to day is unique to me. Every time I get up, I realize I’m capable, I’m stronger and stronger, and that makes my self-esteem grow. And with this state of mind I continue then throughout the day. I can therefore say that the heavier training becomes, the lighter my life becomes.
I’m not saying I’m jumping for joy when I see the weights waiting for me. This type of training requires constancy in bringing yourself each time in the “non comfort zone”. What I’m talking about is closer to a “hate-love” relationship. It’s only when you notice progress that you start to like it, and then you realize how much it’s worth. In order to achieve progress, however, we must begin to commit ourselves seriously and abandon the useless road of excuses, we must break down the wall of our comfort zone, otherwise we do not get anywhere. And that’s the only way to success and that’s why it gives me enormous satisfaction every determined look of my athletes that is telling me :” OK, let’s do this shit!”