Standing there staring at the bar, studying its knurling and hating it, I couldn’t help but laugh as my girlfriend danced around the gym to whatever pop tune she was listening to on her headphones. Meanwhile, all I could think about was how bad I hated that squat bar not for what it is but for what it represents—my frustrations, fears, disappointments…myself. Even more than all that, I hated myself for hating it, which just fueled the fire even more. It was just one of those days I guess, but I needed it after the last few.

My girlfriend and I were supposed to travel on a Friday to Vermont for a friend’s wedding. We arrived at the airport in the early morning, and when we boarded the plane, I knew that I was in for a rough day. The ceiling of the plane was maybe five feet, eleven inches high and the rows consisted of two seats on one side and one seat on the other. As a six foot, two inch powerlifter, these are what my nightmares consist of—being smashed into some tiny space made for people half my size. To make matters worse, it was incredibly hot and the air conditioning unit on the plane wasn’t doing much to quell my frustrations.

Once we were situated, the pilot announced that the flight would be delayed due to a door that wouldn’t seal. We were waiting on maintenance. After about thirty minutes, the pilot announced that we would need to deboard the plane because the maintenance guy’s badge had expired and we would have to wait for him to get it renewed. After another 45 minutes sitting in the terminal, they announced that our flight was canceled. This sent us scrambling to book other flights, which resulted in two hours of waiting in line and no flights available to get us there to see the wedding. I was left with half a day wasted and a girlfriend in tears.

The next day I got a flat tire, which just added to the annoyance, but at least on Saturday night we were going to watch football with some friends. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a night of watching football somehow turned into several guys trying to start an 80s pop and 90s R&B dance and sing-along session. Now, I’m not anti-dancing or karaoke, but I sure as hell don’t want to participate while the marquee games of the opening weekend of college football season are on. And I hate pop and R&B music. Needless to say, I wasn’t a happy camper about the whole situation.

While none of these circumstances made for any major trials in life, they didn’t add up to what most would consider a “good” weekend. So when it came time to train on Sunday, I wasn’t in the best of moods. But as I stood in front of the barbell for my final sets of squats, I knew that balance would be restored.

Some people train to feel good. They proclaim their awesomeness on Facebook, and they document their accomplishments on Instagram. They shout to the world about how they go “HAM” on leg day or boast about the crazy chest pump they get every Monday. Some people train to erase their weekend mistakes. They try to burn off the calories they consumed or “tone their midsection.” Some people train for the social aspect. They like to chat with their friends and catch up on the latest gossip.

I train because I have to, because I’m too afraid to think about the type of person I would be without it. Because when I changed schools in tenth grade, I didn’t have any friends and the barbell was the only thing that got me through it. Because I was tired of everyone telling me how skinny I was. Because the barbell always tells me the truth. Because the barbell won’t cancel on me, it won’t go flat, and it won’t start a freaking dance party.

There I was, fifteen years later, staring down my greatest friend and my worst enemy. I hated how much I needed it and loved it all the same, still desperate to load it up with all my frustrations, cares, and worries. Let it weigh me down and push me to the floor. I'll only drive it back up and release myself from its heavy burden…because you will never beat me.