Fitness Soul of a Lifter


Here’s a workout tip – get the right music. Don’t cheap out. Workout music is an investment into peace of mind, body, and soul.

Workout music is essential to get uplifted while lifting. I have an eclectic iPOD – a strange blend of past and present. The daily choice depends on mood and attitude. The one I’m in and the one I want to get in. I go to extremes to get the right music. Last Sunday night at 12:45 am, I was getting ready to plug in to do legs when I heard the tail-end of a song on 97.7 HTZ-FM while I was setting up in the lower floor of X Fitness. The only part of the lyrics I heard was “…not tonight.” That’s it. I think. ‘Night’ was definitely one of the words. Didn’t recognize the artist, didn’t recognize the song. Like a game show – name that song with only two words. It was a dark song. Sort of F’d up. Not cheery or uplifting. But I had a feeling No, more than a feeling. I needed it on my iPOD. That’s how I pick what songs make my workout iPOD.

After my workout, I went to the HTZ-FM website to search their playlist. The “recent songs” didn’t start until 1:00 am, 15 minutes after the mystery song. I emailed the station manager. He sent me a reply. The show was called The Secret History of Rock by Alan Cross. Syndicated show, not produced at 97.7. Two possible songs were sent that they would “never play on their station.” I don’t blame them. Neither one matched. Then I emailed Alan Cross. He got right back to me. He said that the summer is re-rerun season so he didn’t know what show was played that night by 97.7. He was kind enough to send me playlists for five different programs. No luck. I searched all five. Wrong shows. I messaged 97.7 again. They still couldn’t figure it out. I thanked them by sending a free copy of Soul of a Lifter. They’re sending me a free 97.7 t-shirt. Alan Cross wrote back saying that he wants to solve this mystery as much as I do. The investigation is still ongoing.

I try my hardest to be a gentleman but I can’t stand being interrupted when I’m plugged in. Plugged in means time to lift. Socializing ends. Chatting is banned. SUAL – shut up and lift. It’s the equivalent to talking in Church. People get pissed off when you chat during Mass and understandably so. Trying make The Connection is hard enough without someone cutting the air waves. Same thing with workouts. Lifting is a spiritual experience if you get to a certain place. I’ve been there. A lot. It’s a tacit experience. Almost impossible to put in words. Almost. It’s a sense of peace. Not the fluffy pink-bubble kind. It’s the type where all the bullshit vanishes. The conflicts, the bad moods, the F’d up attitudes – mine, theirs – it all gets unfuckulated. You can’t reach it if someone is trying to be friends with you. Chatter don’t matter.

In June, I worked out for two weeks to Italian music. Seriously. I needed to connect with my roots. A giant set of Andrea Bocelli, Pavarotti, Eros Ramazzotti, and Junior Soprano singing Core ‘Ngrato at the end of The Sopranos season 3 finale. No joke. It worked out. Did a personal best of T-bar rows. Two weeks was enough but it made the cut. They’re staying. I don’t need head-banging every set. My music has evolved during my soon-to-be 43 years of lifting. Whatever strikes a chord makes the cut and stays on the iPOD roster.

This month, I’ve resorted to the past – 1975. A Boston superset of Foreplay/Long Time & More than a Feeling. It’s a great remedy for when you’re pissed off or to get pissed off right before a lift. Foreplay is a classic. It’s a trigger to a transformational decade (1975-1984) that set the tone (no double-pun intended) for an amazing string of events that I was blessed to have been a part of. 1975-84 was the pre-Metallica era in my gym. Metallica didn’t take off in the original X Fitness until 1985. In August, 1985, Metallica co-founder and lead vocalist James Hetfield told a packed concert in Castle Donington in England, “If you came here to see spandex, eye makeup, and the words ‘Oh baby’ in every fuckin’ song, this ain’t the fuckin’ band.” That was the turning point. Metallica was an iron-changer. Metal met metal. X Fitness was never the same. Until then, Boston was one of many who opened for Metallica at the original X Fitness.

The Foreplay era was the second phase of my lifting career. It lifted my level of consciousness again. And again. And again. What made that decade unforgettable were the people I worked out with. One person in particular challenged every mental and physical fiber I had. The Foreplay era of 1975-1984 coincided with my uniform cop career. Life-altering consciousness-raising. A tacit experience that’s almost impossible to explain. Almost. And to top it off, the birth of two of my three daughters happened during that decade. They were raised on iron. They heard it, they saw it, and I hope they felt it. Things changed in 1984. Nothing was the same after. It got better. I learned never to say that one era was the pinnacle because if you think that way, it’s over. It’s all downhill. Nothing more to look forward to.

The Foreplay era in the original X Fitness sounded strange. We invented our own language. Foreplay became a tacit message, the silent message that started each workout – DFA… “Don’t Fuck Around.” Time to lift became a Sacred Time. A lot of people broke a lot of personal bests. But numbers were not what it was about. We set an unwritten Code of Conduct – no wild celebrations. We all taught each other never to celebrate a set, never celebrate a rep, never celebrate a personal best. Expect it. Do it again. Just keep pushing limits. The work out is never over. There’s just a bigger rest period until tomorrow’s next set.

Wild celebrations show that you never really believed in yourself, that what you did was shocking. Instead, the celebration was left for the rest of the workout team. We invented our own congratulatory message – “That’s fucked-up.” Every time someone lifted something big, someone said, ‘That’s fucked up.” Two words became THE way of celebrating the successes of others. The successes of others became more important that personal success. That’s the biggest lesson we learned, the one that mattered the most. Next-level consciousness-raising. How did we learn that? Real connections. The Foreplay decade happened without cell phones, without the Internet, without Facebook, without Twitter, without Linkedin, without video games. Souls of lifters, face-to-face, rep-after-rep.

Contrary to fashionable contemporary wisdom , I don’t live exclusively in the moment. The Power of the Past is just as powerful as the Power of Now. Past reps are what got us to current reps. I never have and never will forget them.

Here’s the Boston superset. Keep lifting.


Gino Arcaro has written 12 books. He started his writing career by writing 6 best-selling academic law enforcement textbooks. Then he changed his focus and wrote 6 non-academic books to compete on a new stage. The first book is Soul of a Lifter, available in paperback and e-book. The book is about how lifting is a life-saver – lifting others and lifting weight. Dual-purpose lifting. You can review all Gino’s books them by clicking here.