What I Learnt in the Gym

I learnt many of the lessons I apply in life in the gym. Here are some of them.

You do much better when you do things for fun, instead of for results.

I have seen so many people drop out of the gym because they thought they’d look like Hercules in a month or have girls fighting over them.

Results came when I stopped caring about them – and then I applied that to academics and then to everything else I did.

Everyone always tells you that you’ll never have time to do things you want to

Be it exams or the “rigour” of IIM-A or UPSC prep, or a job – I’ve always made time for it.

You can lose everything you worked years for in a day, and come back stronger

Stitches in the hand, a back injury, a fracture on the foot, surgery for appendicitis, dengue, and now lockdown – if you only do things for the results you’ll never get back up when you fall.

If you attach your identity and get your self-confidence from your abs, your biceps, your physique or whatever – you’ll always remain insecure

The weights will always tell you if your ego is out of control – usually with a major injury.

And even if you think you’re the best in your gym… when you move beyond your narrow horizon you will find a gym where you’re just average.

That some things aren’t possible, for reasons beyond your control – especially genetics

Eyesight, bone structure and other similar constraints aren’t in our hands.

Learn to differentiate between the things you can change and the ones you can’t.

Life is never fair in all aspects; some people start from where you might not even reach

I’ve met people who weigh 100+ kilos (not obese) – more than double what I was when I began; they benched more than I do the first time they stepped into the gym

But these factors aren’t a reason to accept mediocrity or give up

You can still do the best with whatever material you’ve been given

Or you can whine about how everything is unfair and remain what you were

That you don’t need to compare yourself with anyone; it makes no difference to you – you’re both on different paths

It only takes away your focus from what you’re doing.

That many people don’t think clearly, copy others and walk straight into unhappiness when they could avoid it easily

So many friends have tortured themselves at the gym for no reason because they hate it; yet when they found a sport they enjoyed with similar benefits they could spend hours on it

That people can ruin something fun by thinking of it as “productive”

That people find it difficult to grasp that lifting weights can be among the most fun things for someone else

Many people can’t seem to look at things from any viewpoint other than their own.

That you can choose your own values, your own fun – which is different from everyone else, and not give a damn if others find it weird

Someone can leave junk food, sweets, anything – not because of a “sacrifice” or “determination” but just because there’s no craving.

What has positive utility for others can have negative utility for you.

That it’s possible to have a decent physique without trying to impress others or show off your pictures to strangers

You can meet a Russian pro bodybuilder wearing loose baggy clothes without knowing what he did until later because he didn’t feel the need to mention this.

That mind-muscle connection is real;

Only when I truly learnt to lift did I also truly learn to learn

Bodybuilding and mind-building are the same

That excellence and mediocrity are contagious, they pervade everything you do

The same excellence, energy carries over into other fields – if you stop caring about the results

That so many people don’t have a clue what they’re talking about – but they’ll be the first to tell you what you should be doing in the gym

That the world sets the bar so low

Just going to the gym can be an achievement

That fifty men will come to help a girl pick a dumbbell even if she doesn’t need any help; a guy might be lucky to find one

“Helping” isn’t really helping, few are those who give freely

That some people will consume anything and lie about it to impress others and make money on the internet selling trash

That there’s no shortage of those who will believe them and spend their money

That short-cuts and the easy way out will always attract people – because they only have eyes on the results

That ideas are always worth spending more time on than people

Fat-to-fit stories, transformations are just one specific way to get something

Understand how things work and find your own way – you’ll be far more successful

That you don’t need anyone’s validation / admiration – it makes no difference, you can get by without it just as well


vagmi singh

“ideas are worth spending more time on than people”. This is such a beautifully written piece and I resonate with you. I wouldn’t challenge mediocrity though. There’s always some place to start with. It is just so good to read your write ups. 🙂


I think mediocrity is an attitude, not a starting point – that’s a novice.
An attitude of just wanting a result and hating the process.

vagmi singh

When stretched over a period of time, yes/maybe. Anything becomes an attitude when observed for far too long than required. I think mediocrity is never about an extreme or antithesis, such as hatred or loathing. That very potential to adjudge is missing and hence, it’s mediocre. Anything for that matter. But again to each their own.

Gopal Gandhi

It’s the common tendency of the human mind that he always seeks validation from external domain. It is the ordinary tendency but you think beyond the common it makes you extraordinary and differ you from the worldly rat race.Your thought are always worth inculcating and worth applying in the life.
Thank you so much for your awesome insights.

Preksha Jain

Even the basic day to day activities make us learn something about living our lives and the same could be applicable to not only cracking a particular exam, but also to prevent us from complicating or burdening our lives unnecessarily. All we need to do is pay attention!
Beautifully written piece Pratyush! Keep inspiring us.


I just follow IIFYM – if it fits your macros and you want to eat it, eat it.
I eat meat so I’m the opposite of vegan – but don’t have anything against those who follow it.

Haven’t tried ever. I would hope I could.

Kiran S

This article is like a buffet. You can choose what you want and adapt. So neatly articulated. Great work Pratyush.
I need some ideas on how not to worry about results if it is the sole purpose of doing certain things. Eg: Exams?
Loving the process is fine, but without any results it’s difficult to hang on to any. Please throw some light.
Thank you!


In these cases I’d differentiate between a goal and the result.

The goal is clearing the exam – IAS or IIT or whatever.

The result is the outcome – whether you make it or not.

Once you have a goal – then obsessing about the result only hinders you. All that energy could be spent pursuing it instead of worrying about the result.

So think a lot before you set a goal. Then forget the result.


Hey sir wanna talk you, possible ?


Pietro Boselli of India

Vinay Mehta

Could really relate to a lot of this. The weights can teach you about life.


I want to believe the following statements are written to make the article captivating and the author has not been brutally hurt in reality!

-Stitches in the hand, a back injury, a fracture on the foot, surgery for appendicitis, dengue, and now lockdown – if you only do things for the results you’ll never get back up when you fall-

Hopefully, Am I right, pratyush sir?!


Only when I truly learnt to lift did I also truly learn to learn
Can someone explain this


It really cut off the leashes when we start “not caring” about world’s opinions anymore.. Weighs us down n LIBERATES us. I admire ur articles.. God bless u!!