Strength Sports and Your Identity

It’s no secret that strength sports, in particular powerlifting and strongman, tends to attract a lot of ‘misfits’. This is one thing I particularly love; whether you’re a big and tall man or woman who is finally finding that you have no need to fit the stereotypical athletic mold, or a small, shy introvert who trains by themselves in the darkest corner of the gym, there is a niche somewhere in strength sports which fits you. Along with this warm welcome of ‘outsiders’ of the physical kind, it’s not surprising that those who might feel the same way socially or mentally often find their place and their people in strength sports. While this usually plays a huge positive impact on their lives, often people can take this too far.

When somebody who feels like they are on the fringes of ‘normal’ society all their lives finds somewhere where they are welcomed and can thrive, it’s no surprise they want to embody the spirit of what they’re doing. Unfortunately, what I see happening too often is that strength sports doesn’t just stay in their lives as a hobby, but it starts becoming the sole defining factor of their life. While this isn’t a massive issue on it’s own (although it may cause issues with relationships of those outside of the sport), what happens when for whatever reason, you really need to take some time away from it?

I’ve seen people who strongly identify themselves as a powerlifter refuse to take medical advice because they ‘had’ to continue training and delay recovery not only for months, but INDEFINITELY. I’ve seen people go through a huge identity crisis because they DID take some time off, and suddenly the only thing they did outside of work is gone. I’ve seen people throw away jobs they enjoyed because they suddenly stopped caring about it as much as they did going to the gym.

As beneficial as strength sports is to almost every single person out there involved, let’s be real for a minute – for 99.9% of us, it will only ever be a hobby. It’s not the defining aspect of your existence. You are more than numbers on a scoresheet. You are more than your total. You are more than your prowess at an arbitrary lift.

Let strength sports improve your life, not control it.

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