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Not My Weight

The universe gives us what we can carry. Weight is an estimate, and it varies. Sometimes the universe is known as my gym trainer. She gives me what I can carry. It is based on observation and intention. Still, weight is an estimate, and it changes. Weight is a response to a variety of factors, which vary.

This month the lift is designed to be heavy. Three reps. Two minutes in between. We're supposed to arrive early to prepare so that our muscles aren't ‘shocked’. I knew I wouldn't have the time. Between work commitments and schedule preferences, I never pull into the parking lot with more time than necessary to change. Arriving early is both a question of what I can and what I am willing to give. The universe doesn't clarify these parameters before choosing our weight. My trainer doesn't either. My choice does not change anything in regard to what happens next.

One week. I arrive as early as I can. Two weeks. I can't arrive at all. Three weeks. It's here.

I'm better when I can keep going. No waiting. Watching. Thinking. Not unlike my work schedule, I have flexibility over when I lift. I can choose when in the workout I arrive at the rack. I choose to leave the heavy lift until the end. Still the weight, in fact the work, is not a match.

"Put a couple fives on for Erin"

I squint towards the rack in the corner.

I clean my hands. I sip water. The person in the rack goes first. Everyone is always waiting, but today they're watching. My stomach rolls. That is my work challenge. It's not just the lift but the visibility of each attempt. I set my feet. I wrap my fingers. I sense each eye and each ridge of the metal bar. I brace. The weight doesn't move. I can't remember a time when the weight didn't move.

"You can do this. You've lifted this before," my trainer encourages. Seconds stretch far too long.

I reset. I pull again. I sense a slight raise, razor thin. I brace. Lift. It resists, or do I?

"It's not my weight."

"Yes," she insists. Hers is the voice of every co worker who attempts to understand my fatigue.

"No," I resist. "I've never lifted that heavy."

Everyone is waiting for me to reach three. Press. Lift. Fear. Of getting hurt. Of not finishing. Of what everyone is thinking. Of being in the wrong place.

They believe. The world believes. This is a match. My weight. And, I don't.

"That's okay. I'll take two." She drops the extra ten. Still the weight remains. In my hands, my heart, my stomach.

Sweat. Nausea. They begin, not from exertion but because of the ask.

On the last group of three, I drag my feet. Quiet quitting, that's what it's called. At the gym, it looks like the extra distance I put between myself and the bar.

"Do you want to be done?"


I do. I want to walk away.

If this was my weight, chosen by my trainer and/or the universe, something changed. Discomfort is not in the ‘can’t, but the disengagement slowly eating away at stamina. The ridged metal bar, the round, rubbery circles. The work, the weight, in front of me, isn’t mine anymore.

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