As we ease into Saturday morning, I sip my coffee and contemplate my upcoming workout. I’ve got 2 nagging injuries so I’m going to have to “train around them”. Two simultaneous injuries suck, but powerlifting is life so off I go to the powerlifting club. I am going there today primarily because it has the specialized bars and stations I need to do the exercises listed above. Also, we can blast music at improbably volumes and use healthy amounts of chalk all in a pleasantly mirror free environment.
More importantly, I’ve cancelled my membership to the big commercial ‘Globo’ gym near my house. As I’ve said in previous posts, I went to the Globo gym about half the time as it’s close where I live and work and therefore convenient. Also, I have to admit, in a weird way I enjoyed the dysfunctional ambiance. One of my team-mates recently told me that she avoids this Globo gym like the plague because, even though it’s very well equipped, it’s awash in negativity and gym haters. She’s not wrong.
It made me think about the most common gym fouls that one encounters in a commercial gym. I think we can agree that we’ve all committed gyms fouls at least once, so let he or she who is without sin cast the first protein bar.
- Talk, talk, talk: I live and work in Northern Europe. People here are, generally speaking, quite reserved. Taciturn, even. Yet, for some reason, the gym seems to make some people wag their tongues like their life depended on it. As I’ve said in previous posts, I often struggle to find time to go to the gym, so when I do go, I’m all business. Friendly, but focused on my training, as I don’t have all the time in the world. My training is usually multiple sets of relatively heavy weight which takes a long time to complete, so I’m often in one location (bench, rack, etc) for an extended period. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had 2 or 3 guys camped next to me, just straight up blah, blah, blahing for 30 to 45 minutes straight. Just talking. And, no, we’re not talking about the deepest, most interesting conversations you’ve ever heard in your life. Thank god for headphones. It’s even worse when one of the offenders is basically sitting on a bench you need to use to carry on his extended oration. Times like that you have say something, and more often than not the guy gets all butt-hurt.
- Mirror, mirror, on the wall: OK, I get it that some people are serious about their bodybuilding and I get that you need to check the status of your “canvas” from time time but nonstop checking yourself out in the mirror is well creepy in my book. Hey, Abs guy, kudos on your diet progress but gazing longingly at your abs whilst holding your tank top up in your teeth? Get a room. I see far more guys than girls engaging in this behavior.
- Wearing as little as possible: This is not about body shaming or some sort of repressed “moral” stance. I’m all about positive body image and letting it all hang out to a certain extent. However, if I have have seen 1 tight leggings, tank-top with requisite samurai-style top-knot hair thing gym bro, I have seen a 1000. It’s a tad cringey. For men or women, there is a fine line between functional gym wear and “hey, get a load of these apples” gym wear. If you are rocking your skintight outfit because, well, you “can” and, lets be honest, also get some sort of validation from it – fair enough. Just know that we all know.
- Wearing really revealing gym wear part 2 – please don’t: I may get some negative comments about this, but here goes nothing. Just because an item of clothing exists doesn’t mean that all of us are destined to wear said article. If, for example, you have a gut ( and this applies to women as well as men) maybe a cropped t-shirt is not the best look…For example, I am a 53 year old man. I have a decent amount of muscle while, at the same time, I’ve got a bit of a gut. It’s a one pack, not a six pack. I could possibly get away with a tank top and shorts, but I’m an older dude and this ain’t the beach. A t-shirt and sweatpants are just fine. (As an aside – the required Powerlifting competition singlets are comical, probably the worst look known to man. Everybody looks ridiculous in them which kind of makes them fun.). So, if you are rocking your ill-advised outfit because you’ve always wanted to wear it and it ‘sparks joy’ to quote Marie Kondo… there are worse things, I suppose.
- Gym haters: You, me and the guy over there, we’ve all been gym haters at least once. I just spent 2 paragraphs throwing shade (humorously, I hope) on gym goers who wear tight clothes because they can and gym goers who wear tight clothes but really shouldn’t. We all judge each other constantly, so rather than create safe spaces or run off to Planet Fitness to gorge ourselves on doughnuts, let’s just recognize this exists. The difference, I think, is the degree to which you can keep your snarky judgement to yourself. Most people can throw on their headphones, do their workout and mind their own goddamned business. But…there will always be minority of people that can’t. Some commercial gyms have the social ambiance of a middle school playground – cliques, rampant gossip, dirty looks, the works. If you can’t, by your words or actions, keep your negativity in check then you’re a Gym Hater.
- Creepers: Stop staring, for &%#$ sake. Have you been locked in a basement for 10 years? And, no, this is not nightclub either although it’s shame there are no bouncers. 2 days ago I was in a big commercial gym and some heavily tatted guy I had never seen before was running up to all the attractive young ladies to give them “workout advice”. He even did this to a girl who was working out with 2 guys. He ignored the guys completely as imparted his highly questionable ‘words of wisdom’. Has that ever really worked, Bro? Take your meds, for Christ’s sake.
- “Gym is life” guy: We all know the type. They arrive at the gym knowing absolutely nothing about training. The upside is that they are generally sociable. The reason you know them is that they probably already engaged you in conversation. The downside is that they’ve got no filter or sense of socially appropriate behavior. Soon, you will see them literally every time you go to the gym, no matter what time you happen to go. 4 months ago they didn’t know the difference between a set and a rep. Now, however, they are veritable founts of bro-science knowledge thanks to YouTube and T-Nation forums. And they naturally assume you share the same goals and interest. “Yo, bro, maybe you should diet, bro. You work out a lot but still could stand to lose a few Kgs. I eat only chicken breasts and $200 of largely worthless supplements a day”…”Yo, squats are for chicks, man”…”Why you never push a set to failure, bro? You’re doing it wrong.” They are generally harmless, and can be amusing. Then, one day around the 1 year mark, they just stop coming to the gym, never to be seen again.