Do you ever feel “castrated” when you’re training in a Big Box gym (LA Fitness, Planet Fitness, etc.)?
As many of you who have kept up with the blog know, I’ve recently moved to Minneapolis and have been “looking for a new home.”
Those of you with the Dungeon Mindset will know what I mean… When I say a new “home”, I mean a new place to get away, put on the headphones, and lift some heavy stuff.
I need a place to train like an athlete. Like a warrior.
Yeah, I’ve been crushing the bodyweight training, and it’s great, but there’s still that part of me that longs for flipping heavy tires, ripping up deadlifts, and hitting the heavy squats.
What can I say? I love the smell of IRON in the morning.
Well, I decided to purchase a (CRAZY EXPENSIVE) membership to LA Fitness.
You know, a place where they walk you around, tell you have “top of the line equipment” (including a whopping “corner” for free weights… 3 benches and 3 squat racks that couldn’t hold up a bowel movement from one of the boys at EliteFTS).
They’ve got bars that bend with only 300 pounds on ’em, and racks that feel like they’re going to collapse on you if you’re squatting with anything over 315.
But they’ve got PLENTY of machines… and they “tell you what muscles they’re working in red and everything!”, as I was told by a friendly salesperson who clearly didn’t “get it” when I said I just wanted to know if I could deadlift.
Top of the line equipment, all right.
So today I go in for my first day back: light deadlifts to get back into the swing of things.
Now, I try to be a considerate guy and was purposely NOT slamming the weight. Heck, I only had a light 275 on the bar.
I was being reasonable and controlling the weight on the way down… Not “aching” it down (back injury anyone?) or setting it down like a baby was sleeping, but controlling it.
I walk over for some water on the third set and I see this short, pudgy “fitness professional” walking in my direction.
(Do you really think a client is going to respect an individual in worse shape than they are?)
He asked: “Hi, uh, are you the one doing the uh, lifts… over there?”
Isn’t that people DO in a gym? Lift? Oh, I guess this “fitness professional” didn’t know what a deadlift was.
“Well, you’ve got to stop “slamming” your weights…”
Keep in mind, I was under control, setting the weight down already.
On top of that, the only weight plates available at the gym are angular (maybe octagonal, I don’t remember, but they aren’t round). So when you pick up the bar, even with a collar on, the weight rotates, and if it’s not in line with the other weight, it will make a noise when it realigns after being set on the ground.
I told him, calmly, that I was setting my weights down and wasn’t dropping them at all, and that I was told I could do deadlifts when I signed up just a few short days ago.
Maybe their salespeople and “fitness professionals”/management should get on the same page here.
I wasn’t grunting, making a scene, being obnoxious, or in anybody’s way.
I make an effort to put on my headphones, find a spot where nobody’s around, and lift in somewhat solitude.
I also treated the so-called “fitness professional” with respect. And despite my urge to show him what a slammed weight really sounded like by adding a couple hundred pounds and dropping it from lockout, I shook off the individual and finished my session with just a little more control.
Because making a huge scene and being an a**hole wouldn’t have done anyone any good.
It probably would have cost the few “true lifters” of the gym a place to train as well.
It would have perpetuated the stereotype of the “hot headed meathead” (even though I’m still built like a dang track guy).
It would have continued the BS going on with places like Planet Fitness, what with their lunk alarms and (seriously) discrimination against anyone who can squat more than two wet socks.
I could have gone off Mr. Pudgy-Personal-Trainer-Pants, but that’s okay.
Instead, I’ll take my business elsewhere. Even if I have to create the place myself.
Say what you want about Crossfit, and I dislike a LOT of what they do programming wise, but they’re helping to perpetuate a culture that isn’t afraid of working hard, with intensity, and putting in some sweat equity.
Zach Even-Esh is spreading the “gospel” in his new Underground Strength Nation, and wants to spread Underground Training to 1 million people (I highly recommend checking out www.undergroundstrengthnation.com for more info).
Elite Fitness Systems is also bringing no BS training to the masses, and like it or not, more and people LIKE US are starting to see the light and understand that the fancy machines and frilly environments of many of these Big Box gyms is on the way OUT.
I’ve gotta take off and rip out some chesthair and eat a buffalo or something, but for now, I’m giving my fair warning to everyone on LA Fitness: If you want to be awesome, do things like deadlift, squat heavy, and kick some tail, it’s not the place for you.
Until next time, I’ll be hitting weighted pullups and dips at a playground somewhere.
The Dungeon: Saving you from Man-Sapping, awesome-draining gyms, one place at a time