What weightlifting has done for me

Shown (l-r) are Chris and Stephanie Antonio with Stephan Korte of Germany. SOURCE SUBMITTED
July 27, 2013

For most people, going to the gym, hoisting iron and sweating on a rubber floor is a necessary evil to stay healthy, but for me it has been a vehicle for opportunity, self-discovery and lifelong friendships that have broadened my horizons and made my life more complete.

Everything I do, have and know has a direct connection to working out and getting in shape, and all the blood, sweat and tears along the way were worth the effort.

Strength, size, self-confidence

As a kid, I used weight training to prepare for sports and build my self-confidence. At the age of 13, I went down to my basement and began experimenting with an old set of plastic weights filled with concrete that belonged to my older brother.

I had no idea what I was doing, but I did know I liked the way I felt when the blood rushed to my muscles and gave me a pump and instant adrenaline rush. In time I began to stand a little straighter, walk a little taller and quickly realized that I loved the way it felt when I was working toward and accomplishing a goal. I wasn’t long before I gained more confidence, strength and size, and was prepared for competitive sports.

Discipline, hard work

By the time I was a sophomore in high school, weight training was a big part of my life, and it was required by my football coach for anyone interested in starting for the team. A lot of guys did it because they had to, but a core group of us took it very seriously and instantly bonded, becoming great friends based on common interests. We began to feed off each others' accomplishments, competing for bragging rights and weight room records, but more importantly, we learned that we could accomplish anything with discipline and hard work, and those values have transferred into all parts of my life today.

Passion and commitment

Fitness became a passion that taught me how to fully commit and apply myself to one common goal. At this point I realized half the battle of being successful is first finding something you love and enjoy doing and then applying hard work and discipline to make it complete. For me, weight training was something I never got tired of, and I began to read, write and practice it whenever I had free time.

Lifelong friendships

Working out has helped me forge great friendships with people of all walks of life. No matter where I ever lived or visited, working out has instantly exposed me to like-minded people. When I moved to the beach 15 years ago, I quickly established numerous friendships simply by signing up and working out at the local gym. I still keep in touch with friends from grade school, high school and college, and in 1992 I traveled to Sydney, Australia, to compete in the Junior World Championships, where I became friends with Stephan Korte, a member of the German powerlifting team.  

We have kept in touch over the years, but last week he traveled to the U.S. to visit and celebrate the 20-year anniversary of our friendship. It was a great time, and it was all because of weight training.

For me, getting in shape is just one small benefit that living a fitness lifestyle has provided. There have been many life lessons along the way that were a direct result of working hard and spending time in the gym.

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

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