Gyms are a sub-culture unto their own. The reason that some people find Gyms, and especially specialized Gyms/Training facilities, so daunting is the mini-“culture shock” of learning parameters of this subculture. These are the “do’s and dont’s” that allow one to avoid “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, aka complete social humiliation. Sometimes, however well-versed one is in gym culture, we all fall prey to the occasional faux pas.
A few years ago, when I first started getting interested in powerlifting, I trained exclusively at a big commercial “Globo” gym. My enthusiasm for squats was matched by only by my complete, blissful ignorance of technique. So there I was in a squat rack – completely raw – no knee sleeves, wristwraps, shoes or belt – but on the other hand the weight I was lifting probably didn’t warrant that. In those days my benchpress was many kilos more than my squat. To my credit, though, I was wearing Chuck Taylors, and not spongy running shoes. I was also wearing those sort of thin nylon running trousers, the type you wear to go running when it might rain a bit. They were the only non-shorts gym bottoms I owned and they had a drawstring that I could tighten to avoid the dreaded “carpenters’ crack” at the bottom of a squat. They were not, however, very heavy-duty. Anyway, I am at doing my 5×5 squats at 6:30PM on a Monday night, the height of gym rush-hour. I am on the 4th rep of the last set, coming out of the “hole” when I hear an audible tearing noise, then a pop and, suddenly, a cool breeze invigorates my nether regions. The trousers had split wide open from the waistband down to my knee. The ‘back end” of the trousers had ceased to exist. You know how mothers always tell their kids to wear clean underwear in case they get into an accident? Words to live by, y’all.
Not long after the “Flapping in the breeze” incident, another ignominious event took place at the same Globo gym. The gym was packed and I had just completed a killer training session. I was more than a little light-headed as I proceeded to the showers with my brand new towel, which I had literally just bought at a store just before going to the gym. The showers in this gym have towel hooks to right of each shower stall (which are enclosed by doors). So as I faced the shower I hung my towel on the hook to the right of my shower door and took a nice hot shower. As I exited the shower with steam and water in my eyes, I reached to my right, grabbed the towel and vigorously dried every damp nook and cranny. This towel went from dry and pristine to wet and befouled in roughly 20 seconds. As I opened my eyes, I realized to my horror that I had just besmirched somebody else’s towel. Just as this dawned on me, the owner of said towel exited his shower. No, he was not pleased and no, he would not accept my brand new, never been used towel in exchange…nor my apology. Some people apparently lack social graces as well as the common sense to take an unused new towel. Oh well, lesson learned, always drape your towel of the shower stall door so it’s impossible to mistake.
Finally, in the embarrassing but unavoidable category, I once tore a hamstring muscle by freak accident during a powerlifting competition. It was so painful that I could barely walk. I thought this meant that I couldn’t deadlift and consequently would not finish the competition (meaning my other lifts (squat and benchpress) wouldn’t count) until another competitor pointed out that I could just lift the absolute minimum once. So I went up to the organizers table and told the nice ladies that I wished to change my first deadlift attempt to 70kgs. I had to say it 3 times as they thought they hadn’t heard me correctly. I explained that I had hurt my leg but I sort of still got some side-eye. Anyway, the message didn’t get to the team loading the plates so when my name was called they had to take plates off and leave, I believe, just 2 measly blues on the bar. Most of the spectators didn’t I know was injured so the scene must have looked faintly ridiculous; some burly dude walking out for a 70kg deadlift in a competition. So I “hammed” it up a bit as I hobbled out to the bar, sort of did my deadlift set-up, and invented what might be a new deadlift form – the modified Bulgarian split deadlift. I did the lift, got 3 white lights, and informed the nice ladies that I wouldn’t take my other lifts.
What are your most egregious gym gaffes?