Imagery: With the sturdy bench presses lining the wall, the ripped mats that lay on the ground for free weights, and the treadmills ready to run miles for you, the complex machines that work out the many muscles of the human body, with a mirror across one side of the entire room so you can watch yourself improve and maybe just admire just a bit.
When the clock struck 11 pm, that's when my dad got home from working 9 hours a day in a steel factory. His tradition since I was 8, was to grab the cold container full of dinner and a few beers-- he loved his alcohol -- whenever the opportunity of liquor was apparent he would jump of it. I don't blame him, after working so hard for such straining hours he deserves to wind down, but he doesn't know when to stop. He and I both know this isn’t healthy but i'm not going to tell him otherwise because I know what he'll do. Almost every other night my innocent, loving mother would try and just ask him to put the alcohol down and get some sleep, but before she could even finish her sentence, he would end it with a hateful punch to the stomach. After witnessing this first hand, I know my mother and how she was before he entered in her life, I saw the affects every argument, every fight, I saw how it slowly destroyed her, I didn't see it while it was happening but looking back I realized how her innocent heart was being torn down by a poisonous ivy. My life has never changed, everyday is the same, I wake up then go to school and come home to a depressing household as my mother weeps i'm too scared to ask what's happening. I love my mother-- I truly do -- but at the same time no one has ever loved me and I personally don't blame them, I’ve lived my elementary, middle, and part of high school under the radar. Of course I liked girls, but they would never even think to look at me, of course I had friends, but they weren't your average, they were usually school janitors or old math teachers, but there was always Jordan. Jordan was just like me but he was a little different, Jordan was -- 17 years old, never even thought of playing a sport in his life, was barely 130 pounds -- but he had severe iron deficiency. Everyday was the same, after school me and him would walk together, but he always got picked up before I began my way home, so I would just wait for him. Like I said earlier, we were the same but here's a few things that differ between us, after school when his parents picked him up it was always in a new, white Cadillac that had the newest upgrades possible, and when they arrived, they both jumped out of the car and embraced him with a big hug. After they left I took a different way back home that day, it was a little longer but I didn't mind it. As I walked past the blossoming trees, the bubbly people, I saw that the local gym had a trial week and so it was free. So I tell Jordan about it the next day and he is really happy to go for some reason I don't know why. I know about his health and his issues and it is almost impossible for him to run without pulling a muscle, and to lift weights without a chance of injury, but he was happy and that's what he wanted to do so, we did it together. After school that day we both walk to the local gym and walk into the weight room, honestly I was scared to death, I was scared of the people, they all look so strong and so big, but yet here's me standing blankly at them with Jordan. My depression and anxiety has caused me to hate almost everything especially myself. I don't know how to love, but I sure know how to hate.
As we started to touch the iron, the rusty barbell, the chipped dumbbells, something about it drove me crazy and I didn't know why. As we started to get into our workout we found that i'm actually pretty good at it, and i've never been good at anything before. Jordan loved it, even though he wasn't the strongest and he knew that, he still loved the power to be able to better himself. In my head I always thought the worst case scenario, since jordan was well jordan, I figured he'd quit going the next day. But instead we continued to go together and we each pushed ourselves to the limit and we both saw progress, in my case I wasn't that surprised, I knew if I worked out everyday something was bound to happen. In Jordan's case he felt healthier and was starting to put on muscle he never thought he could have obtained, something about seeing the smile in his face whenever he talked about the gym made a warm feeling in my heart. So once the gym went back to normal we had to pay to go there. For Jordan it was no problem he even bought a yearly membership, but for me , I had to play it by ear. At first Jordan's parents were generously paying for me to go there as well but I knew I couldn't rather wouldn't take the handouts from them. After a few weeks of going I fell in love, not just with myself, of course seeing myself get better was the best feeling in the world, but I loved how comforting the gym was. It’s hard to describe but, i'll put it this way, whenever I had a hard day at school , I would go to the gym, whenever I felt sick, I would go to the gym, whenever I was sad, I would go to the gym. The gym was an outlet for me, the longer I would go I met more people, and they weren't just average people, they were the “cool kids”. These kids had it all, money, friends, confidence. I always pictured them as untouchables and they didn't know who I was, but apparently they've been going to the gym for a while now and have seen me and my progress, whenever me and Jordan went to the gym I was always focused on us that I've never really cared to look around. These “cool kids” were Zeke and Ricky, they were the varsity captains for the high school football team, they genuinely had a certain type of tone in their voice, it felt as if they really wanted to talk to me. I of course talked very little to them because making friends isn’t a particular strength of mine, the next day at school, as I walked the hallways with both headphones in going straight to class, I saw them and they saw me.
I thought they would turn the other eye, but they started to walk towards me, and since they are, Zeke and Ricky the rest of the “popular kids” came along as well, this honestly scared me half to death, but once they starting talking to me I felt somewhat relieved, and their friends were actually nice too. As the days go by I start working for 2 different jobs, one after school and one during the weekends, I didn't want too but I had to find someway to pay for the gym, my days consisted of school, work, gym. School I hated, work I didn’t mind, and gym was like my girlfriend-- I never had one before-- but if I did I’d imagine that's what it’d feel like. Without trying Zeke and Ricky’s friends became mine, and I’ve had friends before but they were burnouts, all of them, they all did drugs and failed school and thought it was okay but I didn’t agree with them. Zeke and Ricky’s friends were they exact opposite, I saw how they all helped each other when they were in need and the always put each other before themselves, after making new friends in such a short amount a time, I gained this sense of confidence.
So whenever I went to the gym I would always try and talk to everybody, and this killed me, my biggest fear is failure and rejection, but I found the exact opposite. Everybody was nice and humble no matter how they were, big, small, whatever. Soon after that I started to look around and see the different types of people, I wasn't judging or anything, I was just watching how everything played out, I would see the new kids come in every week and still be greeted with the biggest smile, by the scariest looking guy, I would watch the strongest guy help and give the weakest guy tips, I would watch the guys that are full of themselves put their ego aside and ask for help when going for a heavy lift.
I’ve noticed that no matter who your are, the gym binds everybody together, it’s a hidden bond, you have to really look for it, but it's their and only gets stronger every time you go.As the months go by i'm noticing real results and my life turning around I wouldn't say I was popular but I did have new, real friends, all because of the gym. Honestly friends were the last on my list of to-dos, the first thing was to change my household, after finally building up the courage to talk to my mom about her life, she tells me that her and dad do not talk anymore and she just gets beat all the time, and this broke my heart. I still have the pictures of my room that are just us three, hugging, holding one another and seeing how far we’ve all came apart from one another broke my heart. So after finally standing up to my dad, we talked about our problems and we all have something in common, we all forgot how to love. Months have past since our talk as a family and my mom scored a job as a real estate agent my dad went back to college for a better career and that’s the best thing that’s have happen to us. After the gym I come back home to my dad cooking dinner for me and my mom when we come home, could you believe that! And it’s not just every once and awhile, it's every night. After dinner, I would go straight to my room and do my homework, I occasionally would go out in the living room for a snack or whatever i was feeling like, and I look on the couch and I can’t believe it, it's just like the pictures in my room from 17 years ago, my mom in my dad arms and they genuinely look happy. Before that, the word “happy” and “mom or “dad” would never be in the same sentence but now everything has changed.
Years have past since my life has changed, coming from a lower class family, I honestly thought nothing I could do could help us but yet here I am, I would consider my family as upper middle class and I own 4 different gyms across this city, and Jordan and myself have worked out together almost everyday for 7 years, I love him to death and to see him healthy and seeing him be able to run without hesitation and to see him jump out of the car warms my heart. The friends I've made in high school I still talk to almost everyday, at the gym, I see people like 17 year old me all the time. But this time i'm the guy greeting them with a smile as soon as they walk in, and I see them being quiet and kept to themselves and they slowly blossom out and talk to everybody in the weight room. Everybody encourages others to do their best, you could be fit, anybody can be fit, but I especially respect the people who have to make themselves go to the gym regardless of their habits, or what they look like. It takes so much will power and heart to change yourself and when you see them everyday slowly changing and having their frown turn into a bright white smile, makes my day. That's what keeps me going, seeing others succeed push me to try just a little bit harder, everybody pushes one another for greatness and that, is what a true family is like.
A kids home life is bad. Poverty, violence, and abusiveness. He enters a gym with his life long friend Jordan. Jordan has a severe iron deficiency and thus gaining and maintaining a healthy amount of muscle is hard. Not only did it change him physically but also mentally. It gave him more confidence. He had to work hard to afford the gym. To be able to afford the gym he worked 2 jobs while going through high school. The gym is his home and the people there are his family.