The Iron Code

I’m going to steal Henry Rollins’ term and use the “The Iron” here. I know some gyms exclusively use bumper plates, but you’ll just have to accept my use of The Iron” to refer to all gyms for now.   

I’ve lifted in many different gyms while traveling. Some big, some small. Some with new fancy equipment, and some with old stuff that has seen better days. Some clean, and some that probably haven’t been scrubbed in a few years.

No matter where I go, there’s a universal code, a sort of Iron Code. It’s an unspoken Code, but it universally exists.

I feel comfortable in any gym I go to. I don’t have to speak to anyone, and I usually don’t except for logistics – i.e. asking how many sets someone has – but I know we are all there for the same reason.

Wherever I have trained while traveling, whether for a day or a week, it’s clear each person in there is trying in some way to improve themselves, to level up their lives.

They are dedicated. They are driven. They are motivated.

In short, they are my kind of people. Each person lifting in every gym has choices and options. They don’t have to be there. They could take the easy way out, like so many other people do, and accept the status quo.

They can stay unhealthy and overweight, but they want something better for themselves. They don’t want to stay average.

Our specific goals may differ; some may be interested strictly in weight loss, some in health, and some want to get jacked as fuck, but whatever our goals we are all looking to improve some aspect of our lives.

We all get some kind of positive physical and mental effects that keeps us coming back for more.

I know that whenever I walk into a new gym, I may be out of sorts because I don’t know where anything is and don’t see any familiar faces, but I know I am amongst friends. I know, whatever our specific goals may be, that our general goal of self-improvement is the same.   

My Most Recent Time in the YMCA

My most recent experience was in a YMCA in Central Florida. It will be my gym home for a week. Thankfully, it is among the nicer YMCA gyms I’ve been to. It has all the equipment I need.

The average age of patrons is probably around 75, but age means nothing when it comes to the Iron Code. My goals definitely differ from most of the patrons in there, but it doesn’t matter. The facility is alive, and I felt that. From the ladies waiting for their Yoga class to start, to their husbands bench pressing light weights and encouraging each other, to the older gentleman with a full tattoo sleeve on both arms in the squat rack, they all make the choice to not take the easy way out, to continue their daily self-improvement.  

Those are the kind of people I want to be around. No socializing is necessary. We all know implicitly that everyone else in there is a follower of the Iron Code.  

I will close with my favorite quote from Henry Rollins’ famous Iron And The Soul, which has always reflected my own view of my gym time:

“The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”