I’m about five weeks into a community ed “Introduction to Weight Training” class and I love it more than I ever thought I’d love exercise. Feeling the burn as my puny arms get stronger is wonderful, which is an absolute surprise to myself. I’ve bought protein powder. I’m watching Mark Rippetoe videos about form. Hell, I am even going to post a quote from an article that makes a sports analogy about weightlifting and that burn as you get stronger:

Instead of trying to escape from, ignore, or stop the burning, as I once did in Phys Ed class, I settle into it willingly, like the heat from a sauna. I let it build and intensify as I push on, without trying to defend against it, and that intensity is exhilarating. Even though it burns, it feels like strength, capability, progress. 

I guess that’s what all those 1980s television aerobics instructors meant when they commanded us to “Feel the burn!” If you’re going to be making progress, you’re going to be feeling a burn. So you might as well come to it willingly, embracing it as the intense feeling of making long-term gains, rather than a punishing side-effect we want to feel as little of as possible.

There seems to be an equivalent “burn” with all forms of personal boundary-pushing, a tension or discomfort that comes with all attempts to reach higher-hanging fruit. Getting anywhere with public speaking entails walking and talking through the burn of nerves. Creative work entails the burn of completing mediocre pieces of work, and showing them to people. Entrepreneurship entails the burn of working under the risk of failure and rejection.