Saturday, November 22, 2014


As I have mentioned many times in my prior writings, my formal education is not at all based around the hard sciences or anything remotely technical.  My undergrad and masters are both in political science, and I also managed to acquire a minor in philosophy (which, these days, is really all I care to study anymore anyway).  As such, I tend to understand most things in life through analogy and metaphor, bridging the unfamiliar with the familiar, no matter how bizarre, obscure or ridiculous it may entail.  The purpose of today’s entry is to share with you some of the more common ones I have rattling around in my brain at any given time, so that you the reader may use them as you see fit.

-The dumbbell rack is like a buffet.  When you go to the buffet, do you put the food on your plate and then immediately eat it there on the spot, or do you take your food back to your table and eat it there?  It’s the same thing with dumbbells.  If you take dumbbells out of the rack and then immediately start training right there on the spot, you have some sort of mental deficiency.

Even this is borderline

-Expanding on the above, good buffet etiquette also dictates “take all you want, but eat all you take”.  We are all taking from the same pool of finite resources, and once a certain item is depleted, we must wait until the kitchen restocks the item.  If you have a large appetite and MUST take the entire tray worth of bacon to be satiated, that is your right as a buffet patron.  However, if that same person puts the entire tray worth of bacon on their plate and only eats 3 pieces before leaving the rest to be thrown away, they are wasting food and in general being a bag of douche.  The same is true of the dumbbells on the rack.  They are free for anyone to take, and if you are running some sort of crazy drop set that necessitates you instantly switch from the 80s to the 70s to the 60s, etc etc, you are within your right to take all of them and use them.  However, if you are simply too lazy to return your dumbbells after each use, and instead amass a shrine of iron around your station while you continue to only make use of one set at a time, you are holding up the buffet.  The type of person who wastes food is skinny and weak, and you will find that the same is true of the type of person who takes more dumbbells than they need.  

-On the topic of “working in” etiquette, there is currently a debate on who has the onus of initiating the work in process: the person on the equipment, or the person wanting the equipment.  Keep in mind, at a public gym, we share equipment much like how, when we drive, we share the road.  In both cases, we have paid our dues (gym fees/taxes) and are equally entitled to the same space, but physics dictates that we cannot occupy the same exact space at the same time.  When we drive, if 2 drivers wish to use the same lane, how do they communicate this to each other?  Does the driver presently IN the lane ask the person next to them if they want to move over?  OR, is it in fact the case that it is the responsibility of the driver changing lanes to SIGNAL first and then move over?  It is the same story in the gym.  The person presently on the equipment has no responsibility to ask every single patron around if they want to work in, and instead it is the responsibility of the people who want to work in to “signal” their intent by ASKING to work in.  If you disagree with this, you are the type of driver on the road that causes a 47 car pileup.

"I mean, I didn't want to ASK to change lanes.  It would've been awkward."

-Continuing with the above metaphor, one may argue that the above is flawed because, when in the fast lane, one should yield to faster traffic, being aware of their surroundings and having the etiquette to move when needed.  I counter argue that both of these realities can co-exist, and that we must simply extend the metaphor.  In the above, we are speaking in the instance of sharing lanes, whereas here we are addressing the issue of “rights” to a lane.  The fast lane is for fast moving traffic, the slow lanes are for slow moving traffic.  If you are moving slower than someone else in the fast lane, you are obligated by etiquette to change lanes and allow them to pass.  You having been in the lane first in no way gives you the “right” to remain in the lane, because you are not using the lane for its intended purpose.  As such, you are abusing it.  The same is also true for equipment in the gym.  If you are using the power rack for curls and someone else asks to use it for squats, you have an obligation to allow them access to the rack.  At the very LEAST, you should offer to work in, but realistically, you should vacate the rack.  Those who don’t understand this are most likely the same type of people in the far left lane on a CA freeway going 45 mph with their left turn signal on for 30 miles at a time.    

-Lack of illegality does not necessarily mean that an act is appropriate, tolerable, reasonable, or worth pursuit.  The Westboro Baptist Church does not break the law in their actions, and are some of the most deplorable humans on the planet.  In turn, simply because an action you perform in training has no direct negative consequences is not reason enough to engage in it.  If you cannot reasonable justify why you do what you do in your training, pick up your sandwich board and go join the picket line.

'nuff said

-Eating vegetables is like flossing: the health benefits are innumerable and STILL people don’t do it.  In general, I find that most trainees eat like children, with no color in their diet whatsoever.  Lots of meat, emphasis on carb sources from grains and potatoes, and zero veggies.  Coincidentally, I find most trainees look and perform terribly.  Time to be an adult and do some flossing.

-There is a claim online that there is a moral imperative of gym attendees to correct bad form as soon as they witness it.  It is based off the premise that, if one witnesses someone putting themselves in danger, as a good Samaritan, they must save this person.  I ask, how many of these people pull over those who speed on the freeway?  What about smacking the burger out of the hands of those at McDonalds?  How often do these people lecture smokers on the dangers they are putting themselves into?  Do these people go to bars and scold the patrons on the dangers of excessive drinking?  We are not doctors, there is no oath, and truth be told, most people have zero qualifications in the realm of preventing injury.  Simply reading stuff on the net and training for a few months does not make you a super hero, and if you insist there is an ethical duty to correct bad form, this simply means that, in every other avenue of your life, you are a terrible person.

-Fretting about using the highest quality protein supplement while having a terrible diet is akin to putting premium gasoline into a ’78 Pinto on cement blocks.  A NASCAR is going to beat a jacked up ricer regardless of the fuel put in, because one vehicle is simply so much better constructed than the other that the little things are inconsequential when you compare them.  It’s only when both vehicles are on equal footing that the finer details finely come into play.  Build your foundation through solid nutrition and training and eventually the little things will start making that 1 degree of difference, but until you get that going, you’re stuck in neutral.

0 to 60 as soon as you put tires on it

-On the topic of cars again (not quite sure how I got into this rut, but stick with me), it is the driver, not the car, who wins the race.  If all it took to win NASCAR was the best vehicle, it would be billionaires in the driver’s seat, not the gloriously mulleted redneck nation that we have grown to love.  You can acquire the most jacked up rocket on wheels that money can buy, but unless you have the skills necessary to maneuver and control it, you’re still coming in last.  The same is true with our bodies and genetics.  So many trainees cry and moan and complain about how unfair it is that they were given the short straw genetically, not understanding that it is up to THEM to master their bodies, beat it into submission, and force it to grow.  Additionally, these same people that bemoan the genetically blessed fail to understand that these trainees still have to undergo the same process to actually take advantage of their genetics.  Someone gifted with the most amazing traits is still worthless if they fail to master their own body, learn it’s leverages, understand it’s propensities, and maximize its strengths.  In life, some of us get Vipers and some of us get minivans, but only a select few of us will ever learn that the governor chip on a ’97 Ford Windstar is set to 130 mph.

…I’ll have to tell you that story some other time.

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