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Mindset And Barbells: How To Overcome Anxiety In The Gym

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Mindset And Barbells: How To Overcome Anxiety In The Gym

By Cait

In 2020, I nearly died. That’s not an overstatement.

I got horrendously sick while living in the UAE, I lost my job, medical cover and visa. I couldn’t get a flight to Australia because of the international flight lockout. I was stuck, sick, and had nowhere to go. 

I’d lost 14kg, I was emaciated, just short walks would get me out of breath. I remember whenever I’d drive past a gym or people enjoying their fitness, I’d well up, remembering how much I loved fitness and being healthy. It seemed so long ago. 

I was hospitalised in August 2020, with chronic kidney disease. Doctors didn’t know why. They ran every medical test under the sun. Turns out I had a benign tumour in my spinal cord and needed spinal surgery to remove it. 

When I got out of hospital, all I wanted to do was get back into the gym - I wanted to move. I’d been training at Rebuild when I was home on holidays each year so I remembered Sean and James and trusted them. I messaged Sean who got me back in the gym doing personal training to build my strength up. 

I remember my first class back. I remember getting frustrated trying to lift an empty barbell. It fucking hurt. I’d gone from 111kg deadlifts to struggling with an empty barbell. I tried again, but it still hurt. 

I welled up, battling a wave of emotion and frustration, realising how far I’d fallen. 
One of the coaches saw me getting emotional and came to talk about it. ‘Relax,’ he told me. ‘Cait stop looking at everyone else’s barbells, stop comparing yourself to your old scores. Think about it like this - you have kidney disease, spinal surgery, nine months of health issues on your barbell. That’s what you’re lifting, visualise it.’ And I did. It made it a lot easier. It was a moment of perspective about self-compassion that I still remember to this day.

I still think about what’s on my barbell - what’s on it now, when I tore my MCL, when I have worked a crazy week, when I’m back after a week off because I’ve been sick. 

And I sometimes have to remind myself still, we all have our own shit, our own circumstances - so as long as we’re doing the best we can in that moment, that’s enough.

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