The Gym Ra(n)t

Over the past few years (possibly more) there has definitely been an increase in the number of women at the gym lifting heavy weights and not doing the usual Cardio Queen Routine.  I won’t pretend to know who or what was responsible for this “movement” but I have no doubt social media has definitely helped kick this into high gear.  You have all kinds of websites and support groups and apparel with motivational sayings on them everywhere you look: “Lift Like a Girl”  “Strong is the new Sexy”  “Beautiful Badass” etc.

A fellow blogger, Kim,  wrote about this very recently here Lift Heavy Get Sexy.

On the opposite side of this, however, there are women who are hesitant or possibly still too intimidated to step foot in a gym let alone a weight room.  There might be a few reasons why;  believing they will get “bulky” if they lift anything heavier than 5lbs, thinking cardio is still the answer, the unknown of what the heck to do first.

But I think women really would workout at the gym more often and with PURPOSE if they were surrounded by other women with the same goals.  Unfortunately, trying to find a workout buddy proves to be a little difficult if you’re all alone.

Sidenote: There’s a gym in LA called Pink Iron. Love this pic and love their story. http://www.pinkiron.com/about/tale-of-pink-iron/

The main reason might be the presence of the gym rats.  The meat heads.  The boys and men who make the gym seem like an unfriendly and intimidating space, particularly if they are behaving in such a way that earns them a different nickname…like A$$hole.  See how I disguised the S’s with dollar signs? I’m so Ke$ha.

I witnessed this firsthand myself the other day.  (Having no iPod anymore allows me to hear all kinds of lovely conversations now as I workout in complete silence. )

Gym Rat #1:  The Loud Talkers

I had a couple of those Saturday afternoon.  Literally, a couple.  They were no older than mid 20’s and although it was undetermined if they were just friends or dating.  You’d think I would have figured it out after an hour of non-stop chatter.  They decided it was a good idea to have a very loud conversation with each other while working out together.   They couldn’t have been more than 5 feet from each other the entire time yet they insisted on speaking at a decibel reserved usually for concerts or bars playing loud music.

Eventually After an hour they finally stopped.  But not before I heard their plans for the weekend (she’s going to a friends house, he’s going to hang with his parents), their future purchases (he wants to sell his motorcycle, she’s saving up for a car) and what they did prior to coming to the gym (a church event that had them both giddy with laughter at whoever the speaker was).    Oh yeah…I know their life story now.

Loud talkers are tolerable…just really annoying.

What’s worse in my opinion?

Gym Rat #2:  The Meatheads who Judge

Two men were lifting in front of the mirror on a random Sunday evening.  I couldn’t help but notice that there weren’t many females around this time and the one that WAS, was on the elliptical not really doing much work.  The guys were talking about random things that I didn’t pay attention to because I was focused on my own workout.  But I couldn’t help but feel like they were ogling looking at me in such a way that suggested a “Why is SHE here?”  Or maybe I’m just paranoid.

No worries…Judge me all you want.  I carry on with my workout.  Meanwhile a different female approaches the weight area.  She’s probably about 5 foot 7, maybe 140lbs. (I’m a terrible judge of weight)  Her legs and chest are bigger than mine but it’s clear her legs are muscular.  No belly to speak of but not washboard either.  Average.

She has earbuds in so I assume she doesn’t hear one of the guys say to the other:

“I still think she looks fat.”

Wow, really dude?? Okay so clearly you know who this girl is or have seen her there before.  But you’re one to talk.  You are not the least bit thin or in shape, you have large biceps but that’s pretty much all you got goin for you.  Your abs are not chiseled in any way and you look like you should probably get those quads of yours in the squat rack.

And the girl was not the least bit FAT.

I’m glad she didn’t hear him.  I’m glad I did though.  It’s guys like these, which are few and far between in my experience, that are probably a good reason why most women won’t go to the gym.  As much as I would tell my shy female clients “Don’t worry, no one is staring at you, they’re too busy looking at themselves in the mirror,”  I would see a few CREEPERS from time to time.

It made me wonder for a brief second “Okay if they think she’s fat, what the hell am I?”

Of course I could care less what anyone thinks.  I’m there to workout, not make friends.  But wow…the audacity to say those words within earshot of ME, another girl!  I guess he knew I didn’t know the girl but what if I had? What if she was a friend of mine?

But I will tell most women, I promise the gym only has a few of these rats.

What gyms seem need to have more of are the Gym Rat #3 type:  The Spotters and Helpers

Working out alone can be a little sad and lonely.  Most of the time I’m okay with it but once in a while it helps to have a friend with you to guide you or spot your tell you you’re form is off.

But sometimes you get lucky and there are people there willing to help you even if they don’t know you.

I was on the squat rack at one point not doing anything too heavy when I heard a voice say “look up.”   I looked around and saw an older man.  I quickly looked away and thought to myself  “Who the hell is this guy trying to tell me what to do?”

Second set, he physically comes over and tells me “You’re looking down at your feet for the last few reps.  You’re not going to feel it where you should and you’ll strain your lower back by doing that.  Try looking up and you’ll end up going lower.”

Oh…Okay.  Here I was ready to ignore this man even further and he was just trying to help.

Lo and behold, it worked!  I didn’t realize I was looking down because I didn’t have a mirror in front of me and this man had a clear visual of my form.

That same seesion, while looking for a barbell to do deadlifts, I noticed a hex bar just sitting in the corner waiting to be used.

Aha! I’ll try that out since I’ve always wanted to.  Now to load the bar…

I grabbed a plate and walked to the bar but before I could even attempt to awkwardly handle this device, a gentleman came over to help me.  No questions asked.  No words spoken.  Just held the bar so I could put the plates on and walked away.  I said “Thanks” because again, I have the mentality that I don’t need anyone’s help.  I’m not some damsel in distress who can’t load a bar but after his help I realized it would have taken me at least 2 minutes to do what we did together in 10 seconds.

I couldn’t help but feel elated after that session.  Two complete strangers lend me their advice and their help.  It was a small moment but a big one.  For just a few minutes,  I had a gym buddy.

*Cue the Kumbaya song*

So to all the ladies (or gents) who feel like the gym is not their place, come one and all.  There’s plenty of room for you and I assure you no matter where you join, you will find someone who will make it an enjoyable experience.

And if not, plug in those earbuds and ignore the haters. 🙂

-Michelle

Random Tune on the Radio:  “Do You Believe in Love” by Huey Lewis and the News

Random Tweet of the Day:  I’m actually staying off Twitter today because I didn’t get to watch The Walking Dead last night and I KNOW one of my followers will tweet out some spoilers.

One thought on “The Gym Ra(n)t

  1. Ugh, the commentary on other work-outers kills me. We’re all here doing are best, so keep it to yourself already! But for the most part, my gym has the #3s–I love that I DON’T go to a meat-head gym. It means the weight floor equipment is a little sparse, but it does mean that everyone there is helpful, supportive and positive (for the most part).

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