I was a magical gnome once.
Lieutenant Commander Gnugnug von Obskurhosen was my name.
For nearly four years I lived the life of an arcane mage, striving to master World of Warcraft with
every fiber of my being. I farmed every instance from Molten Core to Ulduar on Cenarion Circle-RP as a
raider, raid leader, and guildmaster. And I brought flaming death to countless opponents in the arena.
Let me tell you, those were the days. I don’t regret for an instant the hours I poured into
that game. It was the most fun I’ve ever had, ever.
Until I discovered weightlifting.
And I found, to my delight, that WoW had prepared me to excel. These
are the lessons I learned.
1. Nothing matters except as it relates to other people.
I’ve finished a lot of games in my life.
Yet at the end, no matter how epic, I always felt like it had been a bit of a waste of time. But
in WoW, I was helping an entire community achieve their goals too, and in the process I forged friendships as strong as those
in real life. Who cares if you’ve got a full T4 raiding set if you’ve got nobody to share it
So it is with lifting.
I don’t lift just to be strong for myself. I lift so that I will be the most awesome and capable
husband, father, and ultimately ancestor possible. And I lift so that I can inspire my friends and everybody
around me to develop their skills too.
Set arbitrary goals and pursue them with frothing devotion.
Who cares if I was Lt. Cmdr. Gnugnug or just
Sgt. Gnugnug? Damn few people. Even fewer care how close I came to full-on Cmdr.
Those titles don’t even do anything in game. But rarely have I ever exerted myself more than
in pursuing them. It meant everything to me and I’m still damn proud of what I achieved.
Likewise, nobody cares if I can deadlift twice
my bodyweight or just 1.8x. However, I care like you wouldn’t believe. And when
I hit 2x, I will instantly start chasing the next milestone. My devotion to catching that mechanical rabbit,
if you will, brings me a bonanza of unintended, even unimagined benefits.
3. Grind with
days, months, even years to achieve certain of my goals in WoW. I spent endless amounts of time doing the
same thing over and over with essentially no reward.
Now that I’m lifting, I don’t care if I hit a plateau for five months, as I did twice on the bench press.
I am still going to come back and hit it just as hard, if not harder, every week. The grind itself
is a reward and I’m just as enthusiastic about the 10,000th rep as I am about the first or the last.
human being should be utterly ripped.
Not gnomes, of course. Gnomes are pasty, neotonous little pervs. But every
human, from warriors to priests, must be cartoonishly muscular. Anything less is quite unthinkable.
5. The closest friendships are forged in the fires of shared suffering and triumph.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss my raiding
buddies. We shared a camaraderie that could not possibly be outdone even by the most grizzled foxhole veterans
of real, honest-to-goodness wars. If you ever fought alongside Gnugnug in any capacity… please write
me, my dear, dear friend.
with lifting is a little less exact, because I don’t have a lifting buddy, but those who have fasted with me and recomped
with me, and those I have trained, are especially close to my heart.
6. Online communities
are stupendously motivating.
would have walked through fire for my guildmates, even though I rarely knew them in person. They were like
family to me.
Real life is such
a letdown in terms of community. Homo Sapiens is genetically programmed to cleave to the same couple hundred
people, tops, from birth to death. Yet I can’t even remember, let alone count, how many friends I’ve
made and lost over the years just as surely as if they had died. We humans crave tribal belonging.
So thank goodness for Fitocracy, which provides the same kind of community that I found on Cenarion Circle. I’ve never met any of
my friends on there, but I’ll do just about anything to motivate and entertain them.
WoW would hardly be possible without consumables. Pots, flasks, cinnamon rolls; they all matter decisively
in giving a raider a crucial edge.
moreso in life. Consumables are everything! And be sure you meet the prerequisites.
I had to get to primal level 60 before I could handle raw liver. Short-duration stuff matters too.
Heaven forbid I go into my workout without the maximum caffeine high.
8. Pursuit of
epic shoulders, chest, hands, feet, and legs is mandatory.
And putting them all together leads to incredible set bonuses. I
won’t stop pressing until my delts are glowing blue.
miss a raid unless it’s a bona fide emergency.
I didn’t get to be guildmaster by showing up whenever I felt like it. I
attended three raids a week like clockwork, and the only time I missed them was when I was unavoidably out of town or suffering
a medical emergency.
Likewise, I have been lifting for almost a year without missing a single session. I have never
been so sick, tired, or distracted that I couldn’t get under the bar.
10. Your spouse will make or break you.
I could never have reached the pinnacles of WoW
excellence had it not been for my incredibly indulgent wife. There is no way I can ever repay her for supporting
me in my hobby, even though it seemed utterly insane to her. But I do try.
Same with lifting. Also like WoW, I’ll
never stop trying to get her to join me however long she puts me off. Only difference is this time, I think
she’s gonna crack.
11. If you want to excel you have to absolutely love what you’re doing.
As I said, I never had more fun than when I was
playing WoW. I thought about it constantly, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
I remember getting up with trembling hands at 4am with the excitement of a six-year-old on Christmas Day just to farm
So it is with lifting.
My favorite thoughts concern my next workout, visualizing everything I will do. When I step through
the gym doors I feel that same excitement and sense of possibility. And when I step out I immediately begin
planning my next session.
how World of Warcraft prepared me for barbells. I don’t care that I’ve just exposed myself
as a gargantuan nerd, because that’s what I am. Just a little less gargantuan than when I was sitting
on my butt all day.
But not for