Wednesday, December 10, 2008

another long and drawn out post of a personal nature that will not interest you

my gym is sort of interesting. it's kind of a weird mix between a lame commercial gym and a more serious strength training facility. i have witnessed a lot of headshaking things. often times it's some well-intentioned, but misguided exerciser doing waste of time exercises like the chest press station or those hip abductor machines. or i see someone doing some exercise with obviously poor form. this often leads me wondering what i should do. as i mentioned in my last post, i want to be more helpful in everyday life. maybe i should politely point out their error in form or exercise choice and explain how to correct it. but then again, who the fuck am i? i'm not one of the trainers. i don't hold any certification in training (although i find most of the trainers in my gym to have very questionable certifications). i am getting in better shape, but am still fat. would i listen to me if i was someone else? its tough to say. nobody likes to look foolish or be told they are wrong. also, somebody who knows a little, but thinks they know a lot (i am referring to me) is way more obnoxious and potentially dangerous than someone who admittedly knows nothing. then again, i want to help and don't want anyone to waste their time doing stuff that won't work or may even injure them. and another thing...there are a lot of other people in much better shape and with more experience there...why don't they say anything?

when i am at the gym, i keep to myself. i have my headphones on and rarely get into conversations. i focus on what i am trying to do that day and don't make an effort to watch other people, but it just happens. here are a few examples of stuff i have seen recently that have left me shaking my head and wondering whether or not it would be appropriate to step in:

2 women lifting - there are these 2 middle-aged women at the gym that do the same things over and over again with no progression. their routine seems to be pretty solid in that they do a lot of free weights and stay away from lame lifting machines or even the smith machines. but they have 2 habits that drive me fucking insane. they both get into the only 2 squat racks in the gym and proceed to do bicep curls with just the bar and a 5 lb plate on each side. this is ridiculous in that if you are going to do bicep curls, you can do them anywhere else, why take up the precious squat racks? there is an area of the gym specifically for doing curls, but apparently that will not do. or they could at least just use one rack and alternate. secondly, they don't put the weights aways when they finish. they just make a mess with loose weights and extra bars laying all over the place and don't bother to put anything back when they go off and do something else. i am often the one waiting around to use the racks, and then end up havving to put all of their shit back to make room. do i say something? tell them to lift heavy or gtfo?

fat asian guy - there is this other fat asian guy who is more or less where i was before i started lifting. i've noticed him drifting around from machine to machine looking pretty clueless. i had noticed that he had started to try the exercises i was doing, but his form was awful and he was trying to lift too heavy to start out. i chose to just stay out of it, but thought that eventually i might say something to him. well yesterday he was in there working out with some fool wearing jeans. this guy also had no idea what he was doing, but was showing the asian guy exercises like he was a trainer. he was showing him the bench press, but put on way too much weight and was essentially doing bent over rows while yelling "all you!". the blind leading the blind. do i approach the guy and tell him to ditch his buddy? do i give him some unsolicted pointers? or will i basically just look like his jean wearing friend (a know-it-all who does not in fact know it all)?

new gym member with "trainer" - yesterday may have been the final straw as i witnessed the idiocy of one of the gym's trainers working with a new gym member. this guy was showing the girl box squats. while this is a very good exercise, he made no effort to show her how to do it with good form. he almost dropped a bunch of plates on her head when he was lifting up one end of the bar to lower the rack pins. in my first ever intervening, i rushed over and caught the plates seconds before they fell off the bar and onto her head. i checked the trainer's shirt. yup, it said "personal trainer" in big bold letters across the back. i went back to squatting. between sets i noticed that even though he lowered the rack pins, they were still about 3 inches too high for the girl and she actually had to get under and press the bar overhead to get it off. this is ridiculous and i stare in amazement in hopes that the trainer sees me and asks why i am staring. no luck and i go back to lifting, hoping that the girl does not get hurt while under the supervision of this guy who most likely got his certification after a 30 minute online seminar. should i have stepped in and suggested that he lower the pins? should i have explained that she should not be trying to press a weight she can barely box squat? should i have explained to the "expert" that she is not supposed to sit on the box for 5 seconds between each rep?

these are the types of issues that i struggle with most days i am at the gym. again, i do not consider myself an expert in lifting or exercise science. i think i just know a little more than the average joe gymdude. i did work in physical therapy offices throughout college and i do nerd out a lot, reading stuff at work, because i find it very interesting at the may have taken up the hole that was left behind after i stopped caring as much about fantasy football. speaking of fantasy football, i am matched up against laura, whose team is ridiculously hot as of late. i am pretty sure that i will lose, but you never know.

back to lifting and training...i do really enjoy lifting with people i know and like helping them learn if i happen to know more than them. starting tomorrow i will be volunteering at the special olympics powerlifting group, so that should be fun. i wonder if i had begun lifting in college, would i have chosen a different career path? i could see myself enjoying this kind of work, even though i am sure the pay is pretty shitty. i think i would become very knowledgeable since i actually find this stuff fascinating. i dunno. part of all of this thinking is based on my current hatred of (or at least extreme lack of enthusiasm towards) my stable, decent paying office job. i know i will eventually need to reexamine my career and find something that i care about, but it's all very overwhelming and scary to think about. in the meantime i will slack at work, continue to try to get in better shape and probably just watch in horror as people do dumb stuff at the gym.


Phil said...

I think if people obviously want help like that guy that had a buddy helping him it wouldnt be out of line to offer some advice. You should befriend him and tell him to juice or go home, k-so style!

On the other hand when I broke my wrist and it had recovered for the most part I was able to do curls with one of the cable machines but couldnt do it with free weights. I'm sure some people were looking at me like I'm crazy/stupid but they didn't know my situation. So I'd be hesitant to call people out for using machines. They might have reasons for not going balls to the wall.

kevin said...

that's a reasonable point about the're right that there could be people who use machines due to injuries, but my thinking is that 90% of the time people are choosing to do machines for the following reasons:

they have never been taught how to lift free weights and are scared of them.

trainers are lazy and it is easier to instruct people on machines that control your form.

machines are easier. that's why people do the leg's easy to throw a town of weight on there.

i don't hate all machines and i think they have their place, but for most people who are novices, doing these isolation exercises will not get them anywhere.

also, people who are not body builders don't really need to waste a lot of their time on stuff like bicep curls...they should focus their energy on exercises that work multiple muscles. pullups work your biceps and allow you to lift a heavier load. people do bicep curls because they've seen them done a lot in the's familiar and can give your arms a good pump, but does not do much for the average gymgoer who is trying to get into shape.

Dan said...

i think you'd have to wear one of your notoriously tight, white t-shirts before attempting to give anyone advice. it would certainly add some credibility.

kevin said...

that white t-shirt was worn once by mistake. i usually wear an under armor shirt that is actually sort of loose at the gym...but yeah, i am thinking my credibility is pretty minimal at this point.

Steven said...

Haha well I agree with Phil and Dan. I think the guy looking lost is probably looking for help. I also think he would accept said help if he saw you in the white t-shirt.

david said...

i agree with everyone about the tight white T helping your cred, but honestly, i think if i saw someone like you (regular gym-goer, nice guy, massive muscles) try to correct my form/give me some advice i would accept it as someone trying to be helpful instead some asshole trying to make me look bad or whatever...