The Journey: Our Why – Dr. Reinhardt
Tiny particles of chalk proliferate throughout the training hall, briefly catching beams of light in every direction the eye searches. The room is full, yet eerily quiet with anticipation. All attentions are set on a single athlete as he makes a bee line from one end of the training hall directly toward a solitary barbell resting upon a wooden platform. Each step toward the bar builds tension for the moments to come. The athlete remains completely silent and collected; only his eyes display the fire raging inside him. A thirst for success that will only be quenched by completing his upcoming task – hoisting a weight that well exceeds his body-weight from the ground to above his head in one movement. The task appears simple, yet the execution is far from it. He has never successfully lifted this much weight before in his life. Everything must go perfectly to ensure success. A single displaced thought, an infinitesimal loss of balance, a mere glimpse of hesitation could all lead to failure.
The athlete arrives at the bar. As if it were a dance that had been rehearsed thousands of times prior, he greets the bar with no reservations, no fear. He squats down directly in front of the barbell – eyes focused on a precise point in the distance, no acknowledgement of the crowd before him. Shoulders held back and fingers bristling with a sense of exhilaration as they seek a perfect grip around the familiar steel. The athlete’s body builds tension with each passing moment until it is as if a switch has been flipped.
The barbell propels upward from the floor and becomes one with the athlete. The perfect synchrony of speed, strength, balance, and skill must be found.
The athlete approaches an upright position faster and faster with each passing instant. Time appears to accelerate as the bar travels past his knees, sweeps in toward his hips, and suddenly as a blur, the athlete appears underneath the barbell in a perfect overhead squat. The clack of the weights jostling and the stomp of the athlete’s feet hitting the ground are all that permeate the room. The weight overhead remains perfectly centered overtop the athlete’s feet – a balanced union of man and iron. No room for error. The athlete stands perfectly upright, barbell held overtop his head. Only after the loud clash of the weights hitting the ground does the athlete release his focus. He has achieved victory over his ultimate rival – himself.
Weightlifting has acted as my gateway drug into exercise, physiology, human movement, and rehabilitation. I have always been fascinated by the idea of making myself and others “better”— how to add weight to the bar, do more repetitions, run faster, get bigger. Whatever the goal, I wanted to uncover the answers to the hows and whys. I wanted to learn how to defy the odds, push boundaries, and achieve previously unthinkable accomplishments. Deciding upon, committing to, and incrementally achieving specific goals became a passion. The methods and principles for achieving them has become an ever-evolving process. No longer are the days in which I would confidently give black and white answers to training questions. No longer can I rest on past successes as a decisive indication for future ones. The frustrating thing about human bodies, and working with any complex system, is that “the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know.” Therein lies the vicious cycle of false confidences, trials, errors, frustrations, and revitalizing successes. A humbling process necessary for both personal and professional growth.
Years of struggles and successes have helped me to embrace this oftentimes thankless process of refinement. It is a winding journey in the quest for a deeper understanding of the potential of the human body. An organism or system that refuses to adapt will be the first to perish. All human beings have the raw potential to adapt and overcome just about anything they face — what they need to facilitate this success are the necessary stimuli at the appropriate times. Rehabilitation and training offer a rough framework and guard rails to navigate the murky grey waters.
The million dollar question becomes: what do they need, when do they need it, and why is that the case?
It is within this realm of uncertainty where the art of training and rehabilitation shine. When the rubber meets the road, will the person have the physical, emotional, and psychological capabilities required to achieve a desired feat of strength, execute on the field, set a world record, or just be able to enjoy life to its fullest without reliance on a helping hand? It is in achieving these meaningful performances that my motivation to improve myself, my knowledge, my mental models, and my future client outcomes burns so deeply.
-Dr. Michael Reinhardt
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