When you spend as much time in the gym as I do, it only becomes a tenable long-term lifestyle if you can begin to derive meaning from your experiences under the fluorescent lights, amidst the plates of steel.

Since the onset of what can only be categorized as the greatest social disruption since World War 2, COVID-19 has changed the world. For better or for worse is up for debate.

But for always, it is irrefutable.

For the longest time, we’ve been able to peer through the keyhole lens of curated social media. We can see exactly what people intend for us, but as of late, we’re beginning to see glitches in the matrix. Through the facade and the edits, the retakes, and the touch-ups, a cry for concern is permeating the platforms and presenting a real cry for help. And rightfully so.

We were asked to write an article about mental health, in homage to Mental Health Awareness month, something that I have some personal experience in dealing with, as I suppose everyone does to varying degrees throughout their life.

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Upon completing the article, I realized I was attempting to overstretch my boundaries. I’m very much an advocate of people “staying in their lane.” Hence, why my article contribution on this website are sprawling collections of training and coaching related articles. Training and coaching have been at the forefront of my academic, personal, and professional life for over a decade.

We decided not to publish the article.

But sitting with my writing idea, I realized there was a way for me to address this nebulous topic in a way where I could call on my expertise, and perhaps lend context and something akin to solace in such an uncertain time.

To help me with this task, let's travel back to 1995 at Maryland Athletic Club, where a 29-year-old man named Kirk Karwoski was heading into the gym to hit a 1000-pound squat for two. But what he was really doing was teaching everyone a timeless lesson. A lesson attempted to be taught by religions, fables, myths, and philosophy alike.

As Kirk ascended on the second rep of 1000 pounds, an unspeakable feat of physical strength, he displayed what could easily be argued as an even greater feat of mental fortitude. His spotters, celebratory but diligent, attempted to assist Kirk in bringing the bar back into the rack (Oh, did I forget to mention that he walked out 1000 pounds, yeah, well, he did that too). One spotter can be heard instructing the five-man spot crew to “walk-it in, walk-it in.” Kirk remained motionless. The 275-pound man with a half-ton on his back then uttered a phrase that has echoed in my head, louder and louder since the onset of the current quarantine crises.


The gym full of rallying supporters grew silent, as Kirk yelled again,


The gym went still, a split second of silence pierced through the noise, broken only by Kirk’s voluntary return of the bar to the rack.

In the book of Romans verse 8:18, Paul spoke of endurance and suffering,

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

In the year 400 BCE, Buddha stated,

Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”

The 20th-century philosopher Carl Jung stated,

The foundation of all mental illness is the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering.

And in 1994, a 29-year-old Kirk Karwoski proclaimed,


From Buddha to the Bible, philosophy to the barbell, regardless of how or to whom you pray, there is serenity in the sacrifice.

If you are still standing, that is proof that you shall remain. So as we find ourselves facing tough times, for some, the toughest yet, know that this is a rare opportunity to learn and grow. From our greatest struggles form our greatest strengths.

You might not be a man of faith, follower of buddha, student of Jung, but perhaps, like myself, a disciple of the barbell.

And in times like this, don’t shy away and don’t rush for the rack.

Hold it.

Stay Strong,