The “Girl With Man Muscles” Story: Start Wit The First Step

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A girl I knew wanted to get in better shape. She had never worked out on a regular basis, but she wanted to start. She asked me if I would take her to a gym and show her some basics for using the equipment that she could come back and do on her own. I said I would. We talked a bit about her goals. Then she issued a warning.

“Dre, I do want to work out. But I don’t want to be one of those big bulky weightlifting girls who looks like a man.”

This woman had never worked out in her life. But she wanted to make sure she didn’t work out too much, resulting in “too much muscle.” I laughed at her, then explained to her that bulk was the least of her worries. Her first step was getting her ass in the gym for three days in a row. We could worry about unchecked muscle growth later. She wasn’t amused.

I’ve seen her recently. She still has no muscle, or muscle tone, or any other measure of relative fitness.

Every day I receive a message from a basketball playing teen in the 12-15 age range whose goal is making the NBA. But, the player explains, I have this challenge and this problem and this one too… how can I overcome all of this to reach my goal of the NBA ? 

My answer to them is similar to what I told the gym-going hopeful: Let’s start with the situation at hand.

How about you become the best player in your damn driveway or neighborhood first. Then, make your high school junior varsity. The NBA will still exist and be waiting for you long after those are achieved. Without those, the NBA isn’t even a conversation to be had.

Our ever-available stream of media has its pluses and minuses. A plus is you being able to read this mere minutes after I wrote it. One minus is people starting things expecting to be like the person who’s been at it for years — Yet it only seems they achieved their results quickly, because it took you 30 seconds to pull it up on YouTube or 20 minutes to read their blog post.

This leads to inaccurate expectations based on errors in perception, and comparisons that are unfair both to you and to the person you’re comparing yourself to who’s been working a lot longer than you.

The Chinese proverb says, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But now everyone wants to take an Uber. The first step is still the first step. There are no hacks for hard work, effort, time invested, and experience.

Dream about and prepare for your ultimate future all you want. Then wake up and do the job that’s in front of you. If you don’t do that one, there won’t be a next one.