Good old-fashion, hardcore places to train in are becoming as scarce as those pagers everyone used to wear on their hips. Gyms filled with serious lifters like you and I simply aren’t around much anymore. It’s time to adjust people! There are far more regular people than there are of us. The business climate of today’s gyms is such that owners must cater to the needs of the everyday, inexperienced, and less committed members in order to survive.
These commercial gyms actually frown upon the big, muscle-bound monsters who grunt, groan, and slam around heavy dumbbells. Their mere presence oftentimes intimidates the people who make up the vast majority of the revenue-generating customer base.
How can you as a committed trainer work out in the intense manner you are accustomed—and still get along with the regular people? Here are a few tips that will help you maintain your style and co-exist with others at the same time:
1. Train early in the morning. I’ve discovered through my years of training that the more serious “regular” people train earlier in the morning before they go to work or school. They’ve also typically been training longer than the average person in the gym. The morning people are the type who will be more appreciative of your passion and work ethic. They know their way around the gym and already know how to co-exist with others who are at your level of commitment.
2. Show a little empathy toward the beginners in the gym. What if you were the new person in a computer class with a couple of technologically-advanced geeks? Let’s say you had an interest in building an Internet website or in creating a short video of your family—but you didn’t have much experience working with computers. You did, however, have a willingness to learn and a lot of enthusiasm. What if the couple of know-it-all computer geeks snickered and stared at you because of your obvious lack of experience in their area of expertise. Heck! You would probably be uncomfortable enough without the snickering, wouldn’t you? How would you like them to treat you? Don’t be like those computer geeks when you are in the gym.
Remember, you were once a beginner too. Whether you want it or not, you are in a position of influence. Smile at the beginners and put them at ease. Be polite. Be patient.
3. Don’t slam the barbells, dumbbells, and weight stacks. Do you really want to scare that older lady over on the treadmill with the clanking of the barbell after a heavy set of Deadlifts? There’s really no need for this. Control the weight on the downward movement and you’ll work the muscles more effectively.
4. Save the grunting for when you really need it. If you are going to grunt, make sure you are lifting heavy weight—really heavy weight. Nothing looks or sounds sillier than some person making all kinds of loud noises while using baby weights. If you just can’t control the grunting, consider training during the off-peak hours. There will be less people there to complain to management about you.
5. Set an example of proper gym etiquette. Present yourself like you are a considerate human being—even though you train like an animal and look like a Greek god. Wait your turn. You don’t own the squat rack or a certain machine just because you are more experienced than the person who is using it. I know you may think your workout is more important than a beginner—but it’s really not.
Cordially demonstrate to the beginners how to work into a set in a well-orchestrated manner. How are they supposed to know that they aren’t supposed to wait on the machine until their next set? Someone probably showed you the ropes at one time, didn’t they? Take the opportunity to politely show them how to let others work in. And, never think you are above re-racking your own weights. Wipe all of your sweat that those novices will never work hard enough to produce off the seats and benches.
6. Wear appropriate clothing in the gym. If you are a serious trainer, there really isn’t a legitimate muscle-building reason to show off your goods wearing itty-bitty clothing. You say you need to see the muscles being worked when you train? Are you lean enough and is your skin thin enough to see the muscles moving underneath it? Leave the sunglasses, cutoff jeans, army boots, and wildly-colored unitards at home. You can also dump the wrestling-type shoes. I know that you see the top professional bodybuilders wearing this stuff in the muscle magazine photos but, I assure you, they don’t wear that garb when they train for real. In fact, I would say that most of them stay covered up.
7. Dump the attitude. Just because the regular people in the gym haven’t put as much attention into their physiques as you have doesn’t mean they are lesser beings. These people are focusing on other areas of their lives. That man who always seems to get in your way just might be a respected civic leader in your community. That woman who is annoying you because she doesn’t know what she’s doing is a person just like your mother and sister. How would like the super buff guys to treat your mother or sister? Do I even need to say more?
8. Respect the business. Hardcore, serious lifters like you and me are few and far between. The majority of people who are working out are struggling just to show up on a consistent basis. Those regular people make up the vast majority of the business generated. I know they can get in your way sometimes but there simply aren’t enough people who train like us to sustain a well-maintained and properly equipped gym. Why do you think all of the smaller gyms are closing? Look at it this way: The regular people are the ones who are paying for the newest equipment and machines you work out with—and many of them aren’t even there most of the time to use it.
9. If all else fails, switch to a gym that better fits your style. There are still a few hardcore gyms around. You may have to drive a little farther, do without all the special equipment and amenities, or even pay more money for fewer benefits. You must understand that you are a unique individual who attacks your training in a very special way. There simply are not a lot of people in the gyms like you. If you must work out in a way that may be considered offensive to the more regular people, then you should probably go somewhere else and create a better personality fit.
Just because you train like a caveman doesn’t mean you have to act like one. Be a leader. Be a role model. Augment the gym’s business—don’t take away from it. You’ll create a small army of fans made up of regular people. These supportive novices will root for your success as you train together in harmony.
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