By Peter Burditt
He steps up to the bar, grasping first with his right hand, and then with his left. He takes a deep breath in, lifts, screams, and lets go of the world for a little while.
For about an hour every weekday, Thaddeus Warren (C’24) retreats from everyday student life in the Fowler Center weight room. He stacks on plate after plate until he’s ready to leave his workout and go back to the dullness of an average week day.
Warren discovered that powerlifting was his great escape four years ago, when he was a sophomore in high school back in Alabama. Warren’s love for the sport spired from his older siblings, who were all three triplets. He said, “Being the youngest of three triplets always made me feel like I was the runt of the litter.” So in order to not feel weak, Warren decided that he was going to not only be stronger than his siblings, but so strong that he would be able to lift double their body weight combined.
Up until about this year, Warren was all about those gains and simply being the strongest he could be. With intense workouts and a diet of a giant (eating 5000 calories per day), Warren threw himself into the sport head first and didn’t care what came along with it. He suffered muscle tears, rusty joints, and overall sacrificed his body to the sport; and it paid off in the ways he wanted at the time. As he was able to lift a combined 1,530 pounds in his three main lifts.
However, Warren no longer considers himself an “athlete, but more of a hobbyist.” Because he’d been down that road before, as he stated, “I used to be a hyper aggressive guy,” but he moved away from the persona due to the fact that his perception of the sport changed. For him it wasn’t about being the physically strongest in the room anymore, rather being mentally strong enough to not have to feel he had to be the strongest in the room.
As of now Warren is just a gentle giant who is trying to “inspire people, not intimidate them.” He firmly believes that everyone should have something active they can do in order to step away from the overwhelming noise of life itself. That escape and sense of relief is exactly why Thaddues does what he does. For him lifting weights isn’t about packing on pounds of muscle, but more of a mental practice for him in order to see the progress he’s made within his life.
Warren realizes that this sport is very cut and dry, as well as it’s entirely him against himself. Yet, that does not bother him in the slightest; instead it increases his motivation and drives him to be better than yesterday’s version of himself and kickaway those feelings that we all so commonly toil with.
Thaddeus Warren is a walking contradiction, a ray of hope, an electric character, and overall a prime example of how exercise can turn those bad thoughts into good ones. At the end of the day all that Warren really wants is to have is contagious positivity that helps show people the overarching good in life and how not to miss out on it.
So, next time you see Warren in the Fowler weight room raising a barbell with 350 pounds or giving out pointers to a stranger on how to lift. Just know that he’s a “big ole teddy bear” trying to spread a little joy.