Friday, November 03, 2006

Back in the Gym

Over the last few months I've been trying to make a habit of getting back in to the gym. I've got a hurt shoulder so I haven't been able to do much in a while, but I've been able to observe and came up with a new list of rules for working out at a gym.

1. Attire - Seriously, I don't know what mirror most of you people look in but you've got to get serious about your clothing. If it takes you more than five or six seconds to put on, it's likely too tight and no one wants to see you in it. Myself included. I might not be the most stylish person in the gym but trust me you prefer that I be fully covered and for most of you, I prefer the same. As a rule of thumb, if it looks small on the model or the hangar, it will be small on you.

2. The Counter Ho - yes, the girl at the counter is supposed to be pretty. No she's not going to sleep with you. Not because you're not Mike and likely a total tool (because if you're hitting on her and we're having this conversation you are clearly not Mike and are a tool), but because it's kinda her job to make you want to sign up. My counter is not much different here at work. Sure, we discriminate and hire young women with naval piercings that are often referred to as hot chics, but it's a marketing scheme. Do you think you'd really sign a contract with an ugly chic or an overweight fat guy running the counter? Not likely. So seriously, leave her alone. Say hi when you scan your card at the door and move on. I don't care if her thong is sticking out or her shirt is low and open enough that you can see her bra matches her thong. There is no mix of words you can put together to get her number that some ass clown hasn't already tried and you're just standing in front of the scanner so I can't get in and it's really really annoying. She's there for new sign ups, once you're a member conversations with the counter ho should be limited. Very limited. As the matter of fact, when you get out of the car, start saying to yourself "She's not going to sleep with me, she's not going to sleep with me." Say that until you've scanned your card and made it to the locker room and you'll both be happier people.

3. The Locker Room - this is a touchy subject for me. If ever I'm forced in to a gym locker room I try to make the experience as quick and painless as possible. You change, you leave. Posing in the mirror naked is something you should try at home because honestly, I don't know any one that is wondering what you look like naked. We're guys, we already know. Make locker rooms co-ed and you can pose away. Walking up to me to say hi while you're completely naked is unacceptable. I especially don't want to watch you towel off after your shower. You can seriously do that somewhere else and my feelings won' t be hurt at all.

This should be a given, but cell phones should also be kept to a minimum while in this area. As the matter of fact, I would recommend while you're in the car saying "She's not going to sleep with me" that you leave the phone there. You are after all at the gym to work out, your social and work life should be put on hold and forgotten about while you're there. Otherwise you're just going through the motions and it's not doing you any good.

4. Socializing - I know you probably join a particular gym because your friends joined, but you should keep your yapping time to an absolute minimum. Talking to people you don't know should also be limited to "Are you using this? Okay thanks." You can knod when passing someone on the way to or from the water fountain, but trust me normal people don't go to the gym to make new friends. They have other settings for that. I think they're called bars. Or MySpace.

If you must open your mouth and explain what kind of exercise you're doing the words "I don't want to get too big" should NEVER be spoken. Putting on size is not as easy as you think and you're not going to look like the roid user across the room if you do your curls with 15 pounds intead of 10. Trust me on this. He might be on roids, but it didn't come easily to him either. Size is a combination of discipline, hard work, and lots of time spent with the iron. If you have no desire to gain muscle, buy a nordic trac and stay your dumb ass at home. If you're a man and you say you don't want to get too big you should be permanently banned from any fitness center in a three state radius. Also, if you speak these words while doing clean and jerks with five pound plates on your bar, I'm going to hit the head with a 45 pound plate. When you wake up three days later you're going to be a better person because you won't likely ever return to the gym. Another thing that will likely get you punched in the face by mentioning is "Spot Fat Reduction." This is a fairy tale. It does not exist. Period.

5. MP3 Players - These are a great new device to drown out the tools hitting on the counter ho, and the crappy music that is always played at gyms. Someone with an MP3 player on typically isn't someone who likes to be disturbed. So, questions such as "What are you listening to?" and "Where did you get that?" are inappropriate and totally unacceptable. I bought mine specifically so you wouldn't speak to me and so I'd have my own music. I really don't want to hear that you could never figure out how to work one, or that you like it because it's blue. I bought it because it was cheap, and held more than enough songs to get me through a workout. The music you put in them is entirely up to you. Singing along with the music choice is also not an acceptable practice. If you hear comments such as "I'm recording this so I can play it back for you later and you'll know what a douche bag you sound like," I'm not kidding and neither is anyone else around me. Just remember, MP3 players are not topics of discussion, they're discussion deterrants.

6. Working out - I know it's an amazing concept but that's why gyms were invented. People go, work out, feel better, go home. The really hard core guys typically spend most of their day thinking about what muscle group they're working and some work it for hours. If for some reason you thought that reading a paper was an acceptable practice, you are in the wrong place. They have places for that too...called coffee houses. You do not go to the gym to read the paper. If you're reading the paper between your sets of bench, or on the preacher curl machine, you're just taking up space and you need to leave. The same goes for magazines. Some people can do it while on a treadmill and my hat is off to you if that's the case, but don't come to lift weights with a newspaper or magazine in hand. If it's that good or that important, don't come to the gym. Read your shit and come in some other time when you're less distracted.

Cell phones are another big no no. I think I've taken my cell phone in to the gym two times in the 10 years I've been attending one and both times I had good reason. It is completely unacceptable to try to complete your workout while talking on one. If you can workout and not get short of breath to where the person you're talking to doesn't know you're working out, you're again in the wrong place. No, they did not make wireless headsets so you don't have to switch hands.

Also, while working out you'll find a variety of different machines and weights and racks for arms, legs, back, chest, and anything else you can work. You should really use these machines as they were intended. Doing curls on the squat rack makes you look dumb. Do squats on the squat rack or use one of the 17 other arm machines you have at your disposal.

As far as what programs you follow, there are tons of websites and fitness magazines out there with pointers. My personal favorite is the Arnold Scwarzenegger body building dictionary. It's by far got the best information from anything I've ever bought. And come's Arnold...the very definition of awesomeness. You should also never question someone else's form or routine. Unless of course you see them using a chest press macine to work their legs on. Even then, it's really up to them. As Henry Rollins wrote in The Iron, The Iron will teach you many lessons. There are days when I couldn't lift a fork because I tried to lift too much. Just remember, the Iron can be a great teacher and a good friend to you but you have to show it the respect it deserves. Doing otherwise will put you on the strict cardio program that I am currently on. As a side note, working out with your wife or significant other is prohibited. It's great that you guys both joined, you can even ride together. Working out together doesn't benefit either one of you.

7. Diet & Supplementation - If you so choose to take supplements of whatever kind, this should not be public knowledge. Walking up to a stranger at the water fountain and saying "Hey man, I'm on DynaBall, you want some?" Odds are you aren't really on any form of steroid other than prednizone. For those that don't know it's a catabolic roid used to reduce swelling, anabolic roids are what the really big guys use. Judging by your size, someone is either giving you aspirin or shooting 30w motor oil in your arm. Either way, unless you look like Arnold in his prime anything you ingest to make gains in size and strength should only be shared with your friends. And if you follow the other rules you won't be talking about this at the gym anyway.

Dieting is a given. Do you think Arnold looked like he did just because he shot up with roids? Do you think Bill Phillips is one of the healthiest men in America because he has no will power? No. Ask any athlete, fitness model or otherwise and they'll tell you that diet is part of it. If you think you can do it without dieting, look at yourself in a year and if you look different I will eat the computer I'm typing this on. Chances are this computer will be fine and you'll look exactly the same. Don't believe me? Where were you this time last year? Exactly. Put down the nachos and twinkies and make an effort to eat a little healthier. One day you'll thank me.

"Hybrid" diets are also dumb. You follow a diet plan, or a lifestyle change as Bill Phillips calls it, and that's it. Don't take part of this diet, part of this diet, and a few desserts and think it's going to work. If you do, my bet on eating this computer is still good, but notice this computer is not trembling even a little bit because it knows it's safe. If you want my advice, go buy a copy of Mr. Phillips Eating For Life cookbook. Most of that stuff is good, good for you, and his plan is not hard to follow. If you don't believe me, follow his diet advice. He is after all the modern day Arnold. Not quite the new version of awesomeness, but damn close.

8. Women - If you're a guy you've probably noticed the counter ho, her equally hot friends, and random other women around the gym. Believe it or not, women like to be in shape too. They are not however at this gym for you to stare at them or for you to tell your friends you want to bang shit out of them. Sure, they're hot, but you must refer back to the second rule. She's not going to sleep with you and no mix of words is going to change that for you. If you feel the need to mock fat chics, please let me kick you in the groin. Overweight men and women at a gym are making an effort so mocking them is out of the question. If you see them sitting at the gym eating ice cream and twinkies while their friends work out, by all means ridicule them. Also if you see fat people staring at the in shape crowd saying "I could do that," or "I could look like that if I tried," make a bet with them. Your money is safe. Then proceed to mock them until they cry.

As a note to women, if you come to a gym fishing for compliments, or spend more time fixing your hair and make-up than you do actually working out all bets are off. If some roid user starts grabbing his crotch and pointing at you (yes, sadly I've seen that) and saying things you never wanted to know someone thought about you, it's your own fault. Sure, you look pretty. But you'd look pretty not taking up space and iron that someone else could be using too.

9. ILS - better known as Imaginary Lat Syndrome. This really doesn't impress anyone. If you run in to people because you've flared your arms out trying to pretend your lats are that big, I hate you. Don't be suprised if I take my earphones out to mock you. I tried ignoring this syndrome for a while but lately it's been bad. If I can honestly say that my lats are bigger than yours and I'm in better shape than suck. Last time I was lifting weights I got ran in to by a fat tub of shit with ILS. He made it a point to run in to me and the guy nearest to me (also wearing headphones) so I made it a point to mock him. Saying things like "Do you have an armpit fungus that's making you flare your arms out like that or is this some sort of shoulder exercise?" will make someones arms return to their normal position so fast it's funny to watch. I know, I could have been nicer to the guy but you don't make it a point to run in to two people who are working out so you can look at yourself in the mirror when there is a wide open space of mirrors. If you're less impressive looking than I am, you really don't need to be posing. You need to be wearing as much clothing as possible and working out as hard as you can.

10. Spotting - I do unfortunately workout alone now so occassionally I have to ask for a spot. I have no problem with you doing the same. I do have a problem with you asking me for a spot, then explaining how this is your last set, and it's heavy. Chances are when I was in college I lifted just as much if not more. That's why I have shoulder problems. Telling me that 225 is hard and I should keep working at it is going to get a 225lb barbell dropped on your chest. Remember that I'm there to keep something heavy from collapsing your chest. This should be quick and simple. I live by the phrase "Study Long, Study Wrong." This of course does not apply to school work. Just here. If you have to think about pressing 225 (or any weight for that matter) for more than five or six seconds, it's too heavy and you've already talked yourself out of it. A spotter for all intents and purposes is an emergency brake. It's good to have, but only needed when something really bad is about to happen. I've dropped bars on my chest and had eyes turn bloodshot red from the force that instantly falls on you, and it hurts. It hurts bad, and hurts for days. It was nice at the time when people said "What happened to your eyes?" to say "I dropped a barbell on my chest that was 365lbs." Yes, it really did hurt that bad, but I had a spotter to pull it off of me. In short, ask for a spot. I might even encourage if you don't lecture me about something stupid, but you don't want to piss me off because I will surely leave that on your chest for long enough to make sure it hurts. You can even be nice and offer. Mike and I offered a guy a spot once when we worked out together and he said " guys just keep at it. One day you might be able to get these 90's up like I can and I'll spot you." Out of pure spite, Mike and I did the 110's and didn't spot each other. For those not at the gym, that's individual dumbells per hand. He he should have.

11. Leaving - should be just that. You get done you leave. Do not stop to hit on the counter ho again on your way out. Chances are the other 50,000 people that don't adhere to these simple guidlines have already annoyed her. Do not take this as an opportunity to try again. If you've gotten a good workout in, chances are you don't smell that great. When approaching the counter, grab your keys, knod to her if she looks at you first, and leave. I can still see her thong sticking out, but it's not an invitation. Just leave. You're not Mike and she's still not going to sleep with you. Don't walk around three or four times to tell people you're leaving. You're just interrupting their progress. Just leave, no one cares if you're done and you have somewhere to be. If it's that important, go be there and don't ask the counter ho to go with you because she's working and likely won't meet up with you later. If she says yes it's to make you leave. So please, by all means leave.

I know my rules are harsh, but I think they're plenty fair. Following these will make the gym a much more productive and much more happy place. Failure to adhere to these rules will make you a less likeable and less tolerable person...and nobody wants that right?


On so many levels I agree with what you are saying. He's some of mine.

1 - Benching and biceps does not have to be done on the same day (usually Monday through Wednesday is national Bench and bicep day). And while I'm at it just benching and doing some curls does not constitute a workout. Throw in some back movements of some sort and perhaps some shoulders and then you've got a complete package!

2 - Weights are not just for men. Ladies get out there and lift some weights. yeah it's a bit intimidating, but most guys, at least this one, loves watching ladies lift. Especially those that are strong or are trying to get strong. In other words 900 reps with the 3 pound pink dumbbell is not going to hack it. Lifting weights gives you curves. You don't want to look like Nicole Richie do you?

3 - Curls are not the only thing that build biceps. Try some pulls up..or how about this. Try some chin-ups. I see so many guys doing curls until their blue in the face and I'd almost gurantee most would have a hard time doing a chin-up.

Okay I'd better stop.
posted by Blogger Chris D. at 7:39 AM  
It's hard to stop isn't it? This post took me a while to get done because every time I proof read I'd add something else. I guess that's why it's so long.
posted by Blogger Raul Duke at 9:13 AM  

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