Cantankerous is a word infrequently used to describe me. Not because its an inaccurate statement, its just few people use the word cantankerous. When I was a little kid my favorite sesame street character was Oscar the Grouch. He reminded me of my grandfather who was my hero and my male role model. As a result, I grew into being a judgmental cynical asshole. Nothing is a better environment for me to let my asshole flag fly than when the gym is crawling with ignorant asshats who have no hope for success and seemingly exist solely to prevent you from keeping your pump.
How It Seems To The Layperson Enduring New Years Resolutionists
New years revolutionists are people who make a resolution to suck less this year than previous years. They make a half assed commitment to lose “5 to 10 lbs” like they have any idea how much excess fat they are carrying. These people feel guilty about the wonton gluttony they reveled in over the past 35 days and think that a non educated half assed attempt at fitness will correct their lack of judgment and self control over the holidays.
On the surface this is a good thing, people getting healthier, isn’t it?. No. The vast majority of these people just don’t have what it takes. If they did they wouldn’t have quit the last time they chose to clean their life up. The result is the gyms in january through march being clogged with people with literally no hope of changing. Think of a boot camp full of Gomer Piles.
Why Is This a Problem?
This is the gym equivalent of using all the painkillers on mortally wounded soldiers and none remain for the wounded soldiers who can fight. Not all people are equal or deserving. Gym time is precious and it’s almost impossible to superset in a crowded gym. For those of us who make a living lifting weights the New Years Res crowd is like bring your daughter to work day at a skyrise construction site. Even if you ignore the newbies as they risk life and limb doing every dumbass mistake imaginable they are a danger to YOU!! Like a toddler jumping out and scaring you while your tiptoeing on a girder 40 stories up, asshole resolutionists may try to take weight off your bar WHILE IT’S IN MOTION!!!
This is a herd of humans who have all the rights you do without any of the common sense or gym etiquette. Add to that you have to tiptoe around their insecurities or else you’re being “judgmental” and can actually get kicked out of your gym!!!
The Memberships which never come for more than cardio keep the gym doors open, not the veterans that actually lead and inspire. And for every young man or woman who looks up to you as a paragon of Iron mastery there are 5 people who hate you because you don’t look as gender ambiguous as they do. These 5 will complain more about you than 50 loyal disciples. 1 Hater cancels out 10 fans is the standard rule.
Here are some classic etiquette mistakes resolutionists make. If you’re a resolutionist impress your superiors by acting appropriate at the gym. By no means is this a comprehensive list:
1) Learn the Language – This is a life and death environment. It’s on you, the newbie, to understand what people are saying to you. If you’re asked “can you spot me” say no. This is them putting their life in your hands and if you don’t know what you’re doing and or can’t handle the weight in question you have no business saying yes. I frequently have had people spot me who it turns out have never spotted someone before. NOT COOL. Every shoulder injury I’ve ever had was someone saying yes when they should have said no. This applies to terms like “ put a plate and a quarter on” or “can I work in with you” or “I’m supersetting bro” If you don’t understand this you don’t belong. Use google and learn the basic terms of this WORKPLACE. If you’re not there to do work then leave. Join a Planet Fitness or a Curves; you’re not socially sophisticated enough to be around the men while they are working. It may look blue collar but this is a laboratory where humans are improved on from the way god made them, and its VERY DANGEROUS. Not speaking the language is like not having eye shields or a hard hat on the construction site…FOR EVERYONE THERE!!!!
2) This is a privilege not a right – If your activity or lack of knowledge is dangerous for you or others you should be thrown out. You earn the privilege to lift, it’s not a right. In prison its the hardest privilege to get and the first thing they take away… I have mind and muscle customers in eastern europe who have to ride a 3 hour train to get to the gym. And they do it daily. You should thank your lucky stars you live in a country which provides you this privilege and the nutritional tools to succeed. Other much harder working people are not as fortunate.
3) Wiping shit down – I never do this, If the next guy is a germaphobe he can wipe equipment down before he uses it. The more stuffy people that get offended the better. Chances are if they are a germaphobe laying down in my sweat might actually give them some gains, there is probably more testosterone in my sweat then their blood after all.
4) Supersetting – There is a special place in hell for the guy who is doing a circuit of 3 or more machines and gets all aggressive if you work in with him. Its a crowded gym bitch, use your shit then move on. If you have to superset don’t leave the station; bring dumbbells with you and do it that way. If you walk away from equipment and I want it I’m taking it. Your over it.
5) Working in – if your resting between sets and someone else wants to use the equipment you have to let them, but if they want to change your weight or seat settings then they have to change it back to the way you had it EVERY TIME AND DO IT FAST! Their set and adjustments should never take longer than your rest period or they are being an asshole. Now its not working in, its taking over, and only someone who can out lift you is entitled to do that.
6) Training – If you’re not a trainer don’t train people. Its a very rude thing to offer for free what others there make a living charging for. The big problem is that the hot girl you’re giving free “lessons” to doesn’t know you’re a douche with his head up his ass and she might actually listen…and get hurt or worse: grow traps. Don’t get me wrong, personal trainer certs aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, but regardless; if your not paying rent or the gym doesn’t pay you then you can’t be training people, even for free. Yes you can work out with the hot girl, but don’t give her free tips all the time so she talks to you. She doesn’t really like you anyway, she’s just pretending to because she saw chump written on your forehead when you approached her. If thats your angle get a cert and start charging. It works better. This goes double for the skinny guy with the degrees who read shit on the internet. Shut up. If you don’t have muscles you don’t know how to grow them. Period.
7) Gym bags on the floor – If you’re a powerlifter and have bands and boards and chalk this makes sense. If you’re in Under Armour with a Fitbit on your wrist then forget it. Fairweather Fitness Enthusiasts do not need to change their equipment mid workout.
8) Protein Shakes – don’t be the asshole using a funnel in the bathroom trying to squeeze 3 scoops of GNC Wheybolic Extreme 60 into a 16 ounce Dasani bottle. Get a shaker cup. Do in rome guys; you’re in our house, either fit in or get the hell out. Why you ask? Because one stupid asshole getting powder in the carpet means none of us get shaker cups on the gym floor. That shit grows mold faster than (insert extremely offensive metaphor).
9) Saying Steroids – There is always that asshole who thinks hes so cool because he’s convincing people either he would be as big as so-and-so if HE used steroids as well, or that he’s on juice because his doctor gave him trace amounts of Androgel. Here is the deal assclowns; there are cops and DEA in the gym. You sling accusations around and people will believe it because it’s juicy gossip. Never say steroids. chances are you don’t even know what the word means and what you mean to say is performance enhancing drugs. Birth control pills are steroids. Your kid’s asthma inhaler is steroids. But by bringing a witch hunt down on the gym you’re going to get your car keyed at the very least.
KNOWING THE WORD DOES NOT MAKE YOU COOL OR “HIP”.
10) Burying the weights – Don’t put the 5 on the inside and bury it under a 45 and a 25. Each post on a tree is a branch designated for a particular weight. Heavier weights are on the bottom of the tree, lighter on the top. Like a tree. Hence the name. I for one have crushed my foot by pulling off a 45 and a 5 was on top and i didn’t notice. Careless mistakes happen if you’re at the gym 8 hours a day every day. Make the work environment safe for everyone and clean up after yourself.
11) Don’t slam the weights – Aside from the fact you’re telling the whole gym you’re an ignorant asshole and don’t get the time under tension principle, its loud and obnoxious and damages the equipment. Like if you went into your dad’s auto shop and started smashing his tools on the floor. unfortunately it’s illegal to spank adults in public, so no punishment can be levied.
12) Talking to me – If i have headphones on and I’m mumbling song lyrics like “…I want to kill; every one, Satan is good, Satan is my pal…” and I have skulls all over my black and red clothes it means leave me the fuck alone. I’m in the zone and I’m using rage to generate strength. Pain–>rage–>strength—>more weight—> greater pain—>more rage—> etc. etc. Do you really want to get in the middle of that hate continuum? Headphones in is the universal gym sign that “I bite”. This is especially true for the hot girl in skin tight spandex who is not making eye contact with anyone and never smiles. She is not a bitch, shes protecting you from her Tren enhanced boyfriend who is pissed he only got 5 reps with 405 yesterday. If shes hot enough to make your jaw drop shes taken and you should leave her alone.
13) Acting like you’re at home – If you’re new you’re not in your element. This cultural environment is nothing like the outside world. Have respect for the people that are here first. There is a social hierarchy and it isn’t based on income or social status. The pecking order is very simple: The King of the Gym is usually the strongest guy there. The Queen is usually the hottest girl who is usually with the King of the gym. If there are any IFBB pros they are an elite caste similar to “made” men in the mafia, or lords and ladies of feudal europe. Yes there are gym owners and staff and trainers, but typically the strongest powerlifter or the biggest bodybuilder is the king. This is not verbally established; but in this culture the guy on the magazine covers and with the world records deserves your respect. Asking the king when hes going to be done in the squat rack is like walking into a courtroom and calling the judge a fart knocker. You should be taking notes or recording his set with your phone, this is a master of his craft. Watching him is like watching national geographic footage, and you have the privilege of witnessing it being done right first hand.
Again by no means is this a comprehensive list, I could rattle off etiquette mistakes all day. In the end this is a construction site, a laboratory, the kitchen in Top Chef and the house in Jersey Shore. People whose lives revolve around this building and its culture do not need spoiled children running around with sense of self entitlement and a false sense of equality. If the guy you’re mouthing off to can kill you with his hands you’re not equal, I don’t care what the after school special and your mom told you.