No, I am not new here.

The days and times that I hit the gym vary a lot, so there really aren’t any people that I bump into regularly when I workout. But when I was at the gym this week I did recognize the “gentlemen” in question from previous visits.

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the gym and this guy comes up to me puffing his chest out and tried to begin a conversation with “You must be new.” The impression I got was he wanted to chat and was going to waste my precious bit of gym time. I walk to and from the gym. I only have a fixed amount of time in which to train before I have to get home and get ready for work. Every minute counts. Also this guy just gives me the creeps. I just don’t want to talk to him. So I responded with “No. I am not new here. I have a charter membership” and walked away. Mission “end conversation before it gets going” accomplished.

Today I decided I was very glad I did not encourage conversation yesterday because this guy was at the gym again. He did not bother trying to open conversation with me again (thank you!). The next lady who walked in however was not so lucky. She got an even better line I did. This guy decided a great way to open conversation with her was with “Hey, you have it good; young and beautiful.” (He said something else but I don’t really remember. I was too busy checking my ears for excess wax.) There was an awkward silence before the lady responded. I didn’t catch everything she said, but it sounded as though she was steering the conversation into more stranger appropriate small talk. I was wondering at the lady’s ability to move past this so smoothly until I saw later that she was in the gym’s personal trainer office (she was one of the new PTs). Regardless of what she may or may not have thought of this guys choice of conversation starter, as a gym employee she was stuck. She had to be professional and couldn’t be perceived as rude. Giving a deadend answer and walking away was not an option for her.

Personally I think this guy’s choice of conversation starters were atrocious. At least he was an equal opportunity offender. He also kept tying to make conversation with the one other guy in the weights area. (At least he was spared the bad pickup lines.) After a few interruptions this guy just started flat out ignoring the older man. He was wearing of head phones afterall. Head phones at the gym generally indicates that a person does not want to chat.

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To the clueless gerbil next to me:

I go to my gym to primarily lift weights. I like the gym because it has much heavier weights and more varieties of equipment than my small home set up. I tend to do my cardio at home either on my spin bike or in the living room in the form of aerobics/kickboxing or tabata protocols. To mix things up sometimes I will do tabata style sprints on the treadmill at the gym.

So I was at the gym the other day and had just done a good full-body strength session and was feeling good so I decided I could handle one tabata worth of sprints on the treadmill to finish up. So I hop on and get my gymboss all set while at an easy walk to begin with. At this point the lady on the treadmill next to me was pretty much ignoring my existence doing her own thing. (Which is totally fine. I like to focus on my workouts too. I don’t require a hello and good-bye from every person I happen to walk by at the gym.) Then I start my timer and begin increasing the speed. I start my first sprint and when the timer goes off I end my sprint (any sprinters out there know how that works). The lady next to me sniggers and gives me a look I would describe as derisive. I was a bit confused. What was this lady’s problem? On my next sprint and rest she was still giving me the sideways look. Did she think I was trying to run continously on the treadmill and failing at it? I was starting to get angry with this lady for being so rude.

On my next rest period I took a quick peak at the stats on her treadmill. They indicated she was doing long steady state cardio at a low/moderate intensity. So it occurred to me that maybe this women was not aware of the HIIT style of training. There is a lot of dated information pertaining to exercise and fitness that is still being peddled around out there and a lot of this dated information is marketed specifically to women (or rather the people society expects women to be) like the myth that women shouldn’t lift heavy and shit like that. After I recovered from my tabata I opened up a conversation with the lady and explained what I was doing and pointed out some of the benefits of HIIT training. I was right, she really had had no idea what I was doing. She expressed some interest in what I was saying and seemed to like the idea of swapping the long duration low/moderate intensity workout for the short duration high intensity workout. I told myself it was good thing that I turned this into a learning opportunity rather than a bitchfest between two strangers at the gym.  It was a happy ending in that regard except . . . .

. . .all I really truly wanted to do in response to the rude ignorant cardo bunny was to tell her to go fuck herself and stomp off.

Stupid shit people do at the gym Part 2

Don’t drop the weights. Oh Wow. My blog just wrote itself. All done. I wish it was it simple enough to just say “don’t drop the weights” but there are people who still drop the weights at the gym, so I will keep going.

Reasons you should NOT drop the weights at the gym:
1) Safety reasons. I have seen photos of fingers crushed by weights at the gym. It is not pretty. It could easily be a lot worse than crushed fingers if you are not careful.
2) Noise polution. Clanging of weights is like fingernails across a chalk board. It is just not nice.  Add this on top of the other noise generated at the gym by cardio equipment, fans, music, etc. and you have a terrible environment to workout in and work in.  Think of the staff who are there hours and hours longer than you listening to all this noise. Think of their poor ears.
3) The dumbbells can break.
This one surprised me. I never would have thought it possible if had not been for a few conversations with the gentlemen who completed the gym equipment repairs for our gym. He told me several stories of people dropping the really large dumbbells to have the connecting bar of the dumbbell snap clean through on landing.
4) Gym infractructure may not be optimally set up to handle dropping of your fully loaded barbell.
Don’t just assume your gym’s infrastructure can handle the dropping of very large weights. Check with management. My gym was on a second floor of a building and located directly over gym management offices in a very old building that was also used for exam writing purposes (because that was the space available for a gym – not saying it was a good idea). Everytime someone dropped a weight upstairs the walls downstairs shook and white plaster dust would fall on the manager’s head. Now this is probably not the case for most gyms (I really hope not anyway), but still think of the wear and tear on equipement and the building itself before you start dropping weights somewhere that is not specifically set up to handle it. There are gyms out there that cater to the really heavy lifters. They usually have designated platforms meant to be used when doing the big lifts. If you want to lift heavy and not worry about getting in trouble for weight droping weights seek out one of these gyms.

5) Girls (or anyone else in the gym) will not think you are more macho or be super impressed with you for dropping weights. Lifting weights with control is impressive. Being to lazy or sloppy or over estimating yourself and dropping weights as a result is not.

Reasons to drop the weight at the gym:
1) In emergencies only. If you are lifting a weight that you can’t control on the way down and must drop it, you are lifting too much weight too soon or sqeezing out too many reps. If you know you are going to be pushing your limits you should have a spotter present. A spotter can help you put weights down safely.
Keep walking the dog.

Are you working out or passing a kidney stone? I can’t tell.

I have been seing a lot videos of people getting kicked out of a Planet Fitness facility for making too much noise or dropping weights or whatever it is you do at Planet Fitness to get kicked out. The videos always highlight the absurdity of kicking people out of the gym for common gym behaviours. At first I thought, yeah it is ridiculous. I try my best to put weights down quietly, but sometimes I make some noise. It can’t always be helped. And I have been known to give a forceful exhale on my last rep. If a gym kicks everyone out for doing these things how can they have any gym members left?

I wonder this then I remember the people at the gym who always drop the weights, or the people that practically throw them at the floor, and the people who grunt and scream (yes i have witnessed post set screamers). Just the other day at my new gym there was a gentlemen working his way around the strength circuit either moaning, groaning, grunting or sighing after every rep. It sounded like he was trying to pass a kidney stone and have sex at the same time. To make it worse the gym was empty except for the two of us so his mating pig noises echoed. It was a truly horrible thing to listen too. As disgusting as some of this noise making can be to listen too, I don’t think kicking a person out of the gym for it is fair. I do think gym management is justified in asking for less volume or some restraint from loud gym users.

If you are someone who makes a lot of noise at the gym (especially a lot of pig mating sounds), this may explain why your attempts to engage strangers at the gym in small talk are not always very successful.

“Oops. I guess I needed help with that after all.” Part 2

As part of my responsibilities working in the weight room as a student I suppose to try to keep the plate weights, dumbbells, and other equipment in some kind of order. This was usually a never ending task given how zealous people could be about loading their machines and doing their reps then walking away. (And holy excercise balls rolling everywhere! Why do people find it so difficult to return the exercise ball to the rack they got it from?) It really annoyed me when the same person who would be too lazy to unload the leg press after using it would have the audacity to approach me while I was tidying other weights and ask “Hey, can I help you with that?”. My response was always a polite “No. Thank you, this is part of my job. Thanks for offering”. Because that was what was expected of me, but I what really wanted to say to that person was “No. I don’t need any help thank you, but that little old lady over there who wanted to use the leg press after you really could have benefited from you unloading machine when you were done.”

Being asked “do you need help with that” in the gym environment also sometimes felt like some kind of commentary on my strength and/or ability to lift the weights in question. I admit some of the really large dumbbells were tough because I couldn’t always grip them with two hands and my greatest limiting factor is my grip strength. But I generally managed. Moving the 45lbs plates was no problem (the shape made them easy to grip). But guys would see me begin to shuffle the plates and interrupt me to offer help as if they didn’t think it was possible for me to do it. (And holy crap people, if you put your weights away properly to begin with I wouldn’t have to.) I was always polite of course, and in the case of the really large dumbbells that needed to be moved I occasionally accepted their help. 

The question also gnawed at me because of the possible sexist connotations it hid. I didn’t accept the occasional bit of help because I was “weak little girl”. I accepted help because I acknowledged that there was a limit to my personal strength and some of the weights were past that limit. One male co-worker actually complained about how the girls were offered help but he wasn’t. The point is that if these helpful patrons were really just being helpful then 1) they would have put their weights away to begin with and 2) they would offer to help all staff not just the ladies. 

I also had a female co-worker who never put weights away herself. The guys working during her shift did it for her. She would brag “my boys are well trained.” Although whether that worked because she was gorgeous or because they were afraid of her (she was a scary type A personality) I was never sure. Or maybe her thinking was simply that these guys used the weights so she was going to teach them put them away properly. 

A friend whose girlfriend had complaints about guys getting in her way at the gym asking if she needed help when she clearly didn’t, suggested that next time someone asked us if we “needed help with that” we should turn them down then later accidentally drop the weight on the guy’s foot and say “Oops. I guess I needed help with that after all.”