by Chris Shugart T-Nation
You’ve got to give credit to anyone who’s in the gym instead of being permanently adhered to a couch with Cheez Whiz. Then again, some of today’s gym-goers just drive us crazy.
1. The Misplaced CrossFitter
You’ve seen them. Tall socks, Reeboks, blank expressions, mindlessly doing whatever WOD that Senator Palpatine and his minions at CrossFit HQ randomly pulled out of their butts that morning.
One minute they’re doing a high-rep Olympic lift to exhaustion between two benches other people need to use. The next minute they’re blocking the dumbbell rack by doing burpees in front of it.
You know that saying, CrossFit would be pretty cool if it wasn’t for all the CrossFitters? Yeah, that’s about these guys.
Now, there are some awesome things about CrossFit, but if you want to do it, please go to an actual CrossFit box that has the right equipment and where you might actually learn something.
Right now, in the middle of a busy commercial gym, you’re just being an annoying wannabe.
2. The Phone Zombie
Dear phone zombies, we’d like to introduce you to other people.
“Other people” are all those human beings who are not you. Crazy, we know.
And here’s the thing: other people would like to use that bench, rack, or machine that you’ve been sitting on for 15 minutes while lost in the magical fairy land of your phone.
Oh, you need to log your workout? Try a spiral notebook, which does not double as a TV, music player, social media device, hook-up tool, or gaming platform.
But what will you ever do between sets? How about think about your next set, log your weight and reps with a pencil, gives cues to your training partner, stretch, or have a sip of your workout nutrition drink? If you’re that damn bored, then it’s clearly time to do another set.
Stay out of the phone zone. If you must have music, vow to keep it in your pocket if you don’t have the self-discipline it takes to switch songs in less than 10 minutes.
You’ll get a better workout, make faster progress, and show some respect to those “other people.”
3. The Newbie Steroid User
Despite the common stereotype, steroid users usually aren’t violent bullies out to intimidate other gym members and send them running to Planet Fitness so they won’t be “judged.”
In fact, most are humble and even soft spoken. The problem isn’t experienced steroid users. It’s newbie steroid users, those douchey “eat clen and tren hard” guys that start practicing their struts and catch phrases two minutes after their first injection.
Don’t worry. They usually don’t last long. They learn nothing about proper lifting and diet since they’re handicapped by their early reliance on drugs. It’s a “rented physique” as Christian Thibaudeau says, and these posers aren’t smart enough to keep up the lease.
4. Just About Anyone Doing a Kettlebell Swing
The kettlebell swing is one of the best “new” exercises in existence. Use it for conditioning, use it for power development and hip snap practice, or use it to build an ass of steel. Just please, for the love of Dan John, know what the hell you’re doing.
Have you ever seen someone in a commercial gym do a correct kettlebell swing? Most of the time it looks like a slow-motion squat that has been incestuously bred with a front delt raise.
Stop it. The kettlebell swing is an act of controlled violence, not a weighted yoga movement. Think angry thoughts and swing over a box to fix your form.
There’s no reason to be ignorant on this subject. Educate yourself, because your form is so bad it’s distracting.
5. The Dumbbell Rack Blocker
One-arm rows are great. Do them. But don’t do them while hanging on to the dumbbell rack and blocking access to several other sets of dumbbells.
If you continue your egocentric rudeness, then know that we have declared an open season on your toes.
Each toe is worth 1-5 points with the smaller toes worth the most. So if you happen to be blocking the rack and someone drops a dumbbell on your toe, maybe it was an accident because, you know, you are in the damn way after all.
Or maybe not. Maybe they just scored a two-toe, 9 point slam dunk.
6. The Bros
Guys, we hate to interrupt your fifth chest/bi’s workout of the week, but here’s the thing. When you train with eight of your bros, you’re taking up one piece of equipment for over an hour.
You’re also getting a pretty crappy workout given the fact that you rest 22 minutes between sets. Training density. Google it.
When you add in texting, changing songs, taking selfies, and wondering aloud about your chances with that girl over there on the treadmill, you’ve spent two hours in the gym and have done three sets.
And by the way, it’s not “all you, bro.” It’s your spotter upright-rowing 30% of the load.
Try this instead. Break from the bro-herd and train solo for a while. You’ll learn a ton and probably do more than three sets of chest per workout. You may even have time for legs. (Those are the bipedal limbs below your waist, which also contain muscles.)
7. Mr. Octa-Set
There are a lot of great training programs that use circuits. But here’s the thing: you can’t do an eight-station circuit and take up one-fourth of the entire gym. Don’t get all butthurt because someone slips in and uses a piece of your equipment either.
If your program calls for multiple exercises in a circuit or complex format, use dumbbell exercise variations and place the ‘bells near the machine or rack. That way we don’t have to stand around and wonder if you’re finished or just on the 7th exercise of your 8-round circuit.
8. The Crappy Personal Trainer
We try to focus on our own workouts and ignore him, but that’s like sitting in the middle of a three-ring circus and trying to ignore the jugglers and dancing elephants.
There are a lot of smart, hard-working personal trainers out there… and they’re embarrassed to be in the same profession as this clown.
Are you really discussing some TV show with your client who’s clearly about hurt herself because her form is so bad? Do you really have a 70 year old man doing one-legged curls while standing on a BOSU ball? Are you texting while your client is doing a set?
Find another part-time job. Preferably outside the fitness industry.
9. The Talker
You can make great friends at the gym, but don’t be “that guy.” You know that guy – the guy who interrupts your workout to chat. Incessantly. About nothing… except himself of course.
The Talker is either oblivious to things like proper rest periods and general gym etiquette, or he (or she) has no sense of body language, personal space bubbles, and verbal context clues.
No matter how hard you politely try to get away, you just can’t break it off. The worst offenders will follow you and continue to talk even after you’ve started a new set.
You may not take your workout seriously, Talker, but other people do. And they have sets to do, PRs to break, and a limited amount of time to do it.
You may begin to notice that people avert their eyes when they see you and make a beeline for the other side of the gym. You know why? Because you’ve become “that guy.”
At the very least, save your chatter until you see us walking out of the gym or we’re in the locker room. And if it’s the latter, please don’t start the conversation while you’re naked. No one needs to see that.
10. The Creeper
Every gym has at least one. Sometimes these are just dudes with poor social skills, and sometimes their behaviors are downright predatory.
There’s the guy who wears short-shorts and purposefully does his stretches in front of women so they’ll see his baggy balls. There’s the awkward guy who takes cell phone pics of women for “later use.”
There’s the “pick-up artist” whose sole goal of being in the gym seems to be to spread herpes or genital warts. The worst case scenario? The creeper who works in the gym.
What do you do about creepers? You turn them in to management. There are actually creeps out there who have been banned from every gym in town for their creepy creeping. Word gets around.
Tell the owner that either the creeper goes or you and several of your dues-paying friends go.
Bonus: The 5 Most Awesome People in the Gym
1. Elderly People
Old Guy Lifting
They’re older than Moses and they’re still lifting weights and kicking ass. These guys and gals rock. Pray that you get to be one of them someday.
2. The Quiet Beasts
These big guys are all business and make none of the mistakes listed above. They get in, work hard, and get out. They’re always helpful when asked (but not during a set, Talkers!) but will never bug others with unsolicited advice.
3. Women Who Kick Ass
While most men these days are sipping soy lattes and making a hobby out of being self-righteously offended by every little thing, women in their 30’s seem to have become the new gym bad-asses.
They often train harder and smarter than the guys in the 20s and have all the delicious muscle to prove it. “You train like a girl” has become a compliment these days.
4. Fat People
They’ve overcome their embarrassment of being in a gym with fitter people. They’ve decided to make a change. For that, they deserve all the support we can give them.
5. Injured and Disabled People
Want some motivation? Check out the guy in the wheelchair getting **** done. Now take a look at the woman with her arm in a sling doubling up on lower body work.
Amit Sapir had three surgeries while training to break the world squat record. He’d simply train as best he could while recovering, sometimes training just one side of his body at a time. Just a few weeks after his last surgery, he hit 722 pounds on the raw squat.
What’s your excuse?