It’s that time of year where my gym gets an influx of new members (majority is male) looking to either change their lifestyle or stick with the gym because they’ve just recently been assigned to our Coast Guard station here.
These are the few weeks (aside from in January) where it takes me a little bit longer to get through my workouts. Why? Because I like seeing peoples approach to working out. Everyone has different ideas and techniques, and, well, lets face it, not everyone trains the same.
When I first started out, the guidance of my trainer and regular, knowledgeable gym goers were who helped me get on the proper path. My fitness history was more cardio related from school sports than weight training related. Over the years of reading, watching, learning, it’s developed farther. Over the years of learning and expanding my own knowledge of the gym, I’ve come to notice two things:
It’s easy to sort out the seasoned gym goers over the newbies. Yes, even you men who think you know exactly what you’re doing in there. Your greeness shines.
One thing that points out the newbies to everyone is that they do the same four exercises: bicep curl, squat, standard crunch and some variation of a row or a kick back. Or at least that’s how it is in my gym.
When I’m in there, working through whatever workout program it is I’m in the midst of demolishing at the time, some people (men primarily) will approach me to question some of what I’m doing, especially when they think they know I’m doing it wrong. Some will ask me questions because I “look seasoned”. Now, here is where I’m going to stop for a second. I’m no certified trainer, hell, I’m not even a trainer. I’m educated, but I don’t educate (unless you’re giving seriously dangerous advice to someone, or I hear someone giving that kind of advice out, I might step in because it’s wrong to do shit like that). I offer advice, and emphasize that it is just that, my own advice. It’s not the be all or the live all, it’s not what SHOULD be done, it’s just what I’ve learned in my travels. AND, I never offer it freely. If I’m asked, I’ll chat with you about it, but I won’t seek you out on the floor because I’m not that psychotic fitness person.
I may however, side eye you in the mirror when you’re arching your back and wiggling all around doing a deadlift.
Okay, back on track… Last night, one of the gym newbies approached me to ask me: “Why are you doing so much? You’re just wasting your energy.” Um, excuse me? My workouts are 45-minutes long. Last night I was training shoulders, tris and core. This man watched me do a superset at the end of it in which you do 3 sets: close bench press, skull crushers and cable tri pull downs (workout can be found here: Bodybuilding.com). According to him, I should just do rows or kick backs.
Well, for starters, I did kickbacks two programs ago, gotta switch it up.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the different results.
So I flexed my arm a little, made my shoulders pop some and watched as he eyed my muscles. I asked him about plateaus. I asked him about symmetry. Since he seemed to be so well versed in the School of Gym, I figured he’d have a much better answer than say… Corey Gregory of Muscle Pharm (whose arm workout from Bizzy Diet was part of my last cycle) or Mike McErlane.
His answer was “Because that’s just how it’s done.” In meaning, one, simple basic exercise is going to “do it all”.
So to his reasoning: You can do the same 4 exercises, over and over again, for the rest of your life… and pop on a stage looking like Nicole Wilkins or Phil Heath.
Yes, that had me scratching my head.
That’s not how it works. To make progress, you have to keep changing things up. Keep your body guessing. It’s the only way it’s going to be made to work and grow (tone/shape, etc…). One basic crunch isn’t working your lower, middle, upper abs along with your obliques. Sure, some of the basic moves, like a bicep curl works not just your bicep, but your forearm, wrist, etc… But there are so many other moves that can target those same muscles groups that move your body in a different way. Resulting in, well, results.
I asked how long he’d been going to the gym. He was a transfer from another local gym, he’d been going to gyms for 20 years. Then, to my amazement, he’d added that he had trained people and offered to train me. I’m a firm believer that if you are going to be paying someone (actually, not even paying) to help you workout, safely, your ass better have gone to school and be certified. Reasons why I never train my friends, even when they ask, is because that while I have the experience, I am not a trainer. Because you go to the gym and can sling a few weights around, it does not automatically qualify you as someone who can take peoples health and well being into your own hands. I stand my ground on that. No matter how pissed off my friends get. Sure, I’ll hit the gym with them and if they ask what move they can do to target certain things, I’ll tell them, but that’s where I draw the line. CERTIFIED trainers are the correct way to go. Even though now, getting my workouts off Bodybuilding.com, trainers from online, and just from what I know for me is tried and true — I still check in with my trainer. I have her show me how to properly do all of the moves, or if it’s something that I put together myself, I make sure that it’s solid, will accomplish what I want it to and won’t harm me in any way.
Back to macho dude… I politely declined and quickly ducked away so I could round out my workout with my core exercises. I thought I was rid of this man’s “professional opinion” as he so obnoxiously kept saying when he’d corner me. I was wrong. At the fountain, filling up my water bottle, he got me again. Trying to push me into hiring him to train me. He hates seeing me waste all my time in the gym doing things I don’t need to do.
I’m not a gym snob. I’m far from it. But this guy was pushing my limits. I looked him over, he was of course in the A-typical “wife beater” type tank top (A-line shirts) to showcase his “guns” and tough guy tattoos (roses, skulls, and the likes). He kept pushing the training thing, so I let him know that I did in fact have a trainer, one I’d been using for many years and was planning on continuing to do so.
He then told me that my trainer was obviously misinforming me, and I should fire him. That pissed me off. My trainer is amazing. She has helped me grow in so many ways, I’ll always be grateful for her. Not to mention, she’s stacked and jacked. So clearly I’m going to listen to her over this beer-bellied moron. I became that gym snob I hate. I told him that if I wanted to look like him, I’d just stop coming to the gym. I wouldn’t pay someone to help me make that transition. I enjoy being lean, strong, defined, toned, built, any of those descriptive words you can choose. I’m enjoying watching my body go from skinny jock-girl of my high school years to the carefully, well sculpted woman that I am of today.
Then, as I’m walking up the stairs to shower and change, he asks for my phone number.
Seriously? Get away guy. Far, far away.