As I previously noted, I am in the middle of a move at the moment. I said my goodbyes to my Texas Deadlift Bar as I packed away my home gym in a storage unit. Given that I still have to train, I have been forced to utilize public gyms. We have all heard the horror stories: guys curling in the squat rack, people training with gas masks on, guys in extra medium tank tops showing off their tribal tats, etc.
It keeps getting funnier every time I see it
My question is: why does this matter?
Why are people so fixated on what everyone else at the gym is doing? How is that going to make YOU a better lifter? Why waste any energy focusing on people being silly when you could instead be thinking about what went right and what went wrong in your last set, what your gameplan is for your next set, what meal you're going to make next, or pretty much ANYTHING that will actually make you better at lifting?
The reality is, there is a lot of unearned elitism being expressed among the ranks of internet lifters. People that read through a forum post on Mark Rippetoe's "Starting Strength", discovered compound lifts, and decided they were God's gift to the weightroom. They sneer at everyone else following their "terrible routines" while they stick to a steady diet of all of the movements with none of the intensity. When the people they mock grow while they continue to stagnate, they blame genetics, drugs, diet, sleep, etc, when the reality is that they bought their own hype. Like zealots, they clung to their "one true faith" at the cost of actual enlightenment.
In retrospect, the Koolaid flavored pre-workout supplement was in poor taste
Am I saying that the majority of the masses in a public gym are educated in lifting? Of course not. As my blog has mentioned many times, the world of lifting is full of dogma, mysticism, folklore and nonsense, and most people won't explore past what is readily available through word of mouth. However, what many lack in knowledge, they make up for in intensity and dedication, which are skills that a new lifter can't learn from reading alone.
But lets say that the people at your gym are without redemption They lack both intensity and ability. Why let them concern you at all? Because they tie up equipment? Ask to work in. What was once a regular part of gym culture is now taboo due to the increasingly passive aggressive nature of our culture paired with our rapidly diminishing interpersonal communication skills. Rather than talk with someone who is on a piece of equipment we want, we stare daggers at them willing them to die so that they will get off our equipment so we can do our workout in peace. Honestly, who is the dick here?
My policy when I train in a public gym is that I am a guest in someone else's house, so I am on my best behavior. As a powerlifter, there is a ton of negative stereotypes about me, and it is my job to be an ambassador for my sport. That means I smile at people rather than scowl, offer to work in with people whenever I see them longing after the equipment I am on, and offer to share my straps or other goodies in my gym bag. So many people are upset with how gyms have policies designed to discourage powerlifters that they act exactly like how people expect them to, completely validating the rules set by the gym in the first place. Don't be the dick that people expect you to be, catch them off guard and kill them with kindness. You may make a friend, and if nothing else, you might be able to work in a set.
And if you really can't stand it, build a home gym.