It is not often that I look up from the dumbbells.

It’s even less often that I spend anytime noticing other people’s workout gear.

When working out, I’m usually in a meditative zone (trying to catch my own breath), minding my own business (keeping count and not dropping heavy things on my toes!).

But today, in between sets of sumo squats, I caught a glimpse of someone’s shirt.

In big letters, it said: “Fort est gratuit.”

Thanks to my high school and college French lessons, I was translated the phrase in my head.

“Strong is free.”

As I picked up the dumbbells to complete my last set of squats, I pondered the phrase.

“Strong is free.”

We require strength to be strong.

Is strength really free? 

I asked myself.

Then I remembered what my older brother once told me: “Nothing is free in this life, sis.”

I remember not liking that wisdom from him… at all.

I wanted to not believe him.

I remember wanting to argue with him, and tell him:

“Of course there are some free things in life: Air! Water! Trees! Love! 

But are they?

They may be “free” as in, you don’t have to exchange money, silver, or gold for them.

But for us to have them, are they truly free? 

Back to the gym, and the T-shirt, and strength.

Like I said, I was pondering whether strength is free while sumo squatting.

In the last sets of squats, as my thighs were burning, I decided right then and there that to be strength is not free.

Strong is not free.

I was feeling my muscles burning – a sensation we are expected to feel if we want to build muscles, and get stronger.

It’s common knowledge that if we want more physical STRENGTH, we can’t stay comfortable.

Then I thought about emotional strength and how much thought work needs to happen to manage our mind. It hurts my head sometimes to think about thinking, and feeling. It would be easier to not think, and just ignore and avoid any unpleasant thoughts.

It is not comfortable to do emotional work. 

Emotional strength definitely does not come for free.


Putting down the heavy dumbbells, I looked up at the lady’s shirt again.

It matters not what language, what country, or where we are in the world and in life… I decided that I am going to disagree with “Fort est gratuit.” 

Strong is not free. 

Strong requires strength which does not come for free.

The more strength we have, the stronger we are.

Strength requires patience, perseverance, and commitment. 

Strength requires time.

Strength requires that we show up for ourselves, no matter what. 

The price tag for strength?

All the above, which can be boiled down to one word: discomfort. 

Discomfort is the currency to strength. 

We must allow ourselves to feel discomfort in order to grow… physical and emotional strength. 

Is it worth the payment?

If you want more strength in some way shape or form, for sure it is worth every ounce of discomfort.

Maybe I will design a shirt that says: “Fort est gagné.” 

Strong is earned.

If I wear it to the gym, I wonder if she would notice?