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Growing on the Stairmaster.



"The Stairmaster; my enemy, my friend"
The Stairmaster is my enemy. After years of punishing flat-surface cardio, I - like the majority of lesser minded gym-goers, still actively avoid those collection of rotating teeth-like steps - ready to devour my spirit like a Ghostbusters Ecto-Containment Unit, on a regular basis.

But fear is designed as a barrier to either climb over with intricate skill, or smash down through brute force. And instinctively knowing the machine represents a challenge to conquer, I decide to finally take on this personal beast of burden. The treadmill, rower, cycles, spinning machines, and cross-trainer have all felt the wrath of my determined legs in the past, and now it is time to kick some Stairmaster arse. I am a little apprehensive, mildly passive, yet quietly confident...

As I step on the machine, I begin to climb revolving stair after revolving stair… the initial shock is fierce; as my heart-rate jumps in an instant. I've only stared and already my legs ache, brow drips in sweat, and my arms continuously tell me to clasp the side rails; I refuse, on the principal that if I cannot grab guardrails climbing a mountains, why should I on a Stairmaster. The vibrations knock my trusted water bottle to the ground, so I have only my own resources of energy to rely on. A few minutes in, and the workout ahead promises me a brutal, arduous slog. Come hell and floored water, I finish my first course of punishment. I do not celebrate, for this is only the beginning. Tomorrow, I shall face the Stairmaster again. 

Trying again the next day, my confidence stands an inch taller. The shock of the steps are just as gruelling, yet I am a little stronger in my legs, my lungs breathe slightly deeper, and my heart tells me it will try harder against the work forced upon it. Of course – like all fools, this comes across as an invitation to up the intensity; until I slowly adapt to the new, gruelling pressure. The Stairmaster is a long way away from being under my control, but I now understand it more than I did twenty-four hours ago; making a mental note to adapt my technique and approach, around this smattering of knowledge.

After a week or two of sweat and strain, and many hours spent learning to think while fighting an uphill battle, reality grips me hard about the truth of this fresh enemy; he is simple, yet direct, and is trying to grind me down. He works on a basis of climbing and more climbing, followed by even more climbing,;until I am wrecked enough to the point I give in – as it claims another victim through fatigue. The defeated party accept they are not strong enough to climb the Stairmaster, and switch to the psychological ease of the recumbent bicycles and complimentary coke machines. 

However, I have seen the hole in his plans. Victory is lost in fighting this inhuman machine with sheer physical force; machines never tire, and can work forever and a day this way. Instead, it is found in the psychological battle. I accept that force is all it has, and all I have is so much more. As long as my effort is pure, positive, and determined - as I allow my body and mind to face every ounce of its might, eventually – while I will never be able to control it, I may be able to control how I react to it.

At first I wanted to survive; now I am trying to thrive. While it shall attempt to kick my arse every day, it knows it faces a serious challenge; the reason it was created in the first place... many others will defeat it too. It is not the challenges of life which makes a person tough; it is the way they react to them that does. The battle is a personal one, and also a private one. Tomorrow, I will face the Stairmaster again. One day I will win, another I may lose; the ratio grows with practice…

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