Gym Etiquette: Creating the Environment

I’m going to try and keep this as G-Rated as possible, but some of these things get me pretty worked up that I’m even having to write about it and let’s face it, I’m an angry prick.

Now I’m sure most of you badass muhfuckas can relate to how I’m feeling, but this is just a testimony to the Gym I train out and the issues our core group of iron slangers have seen over the years that need to be addressed.

Creating the right environment in your gym is EVERYTHING. It’s the difference between becoming the washed up, never-been’s to the record holding badasses. The atmoresphere of the gym sets the tone for current and future members the second they walk in the door. It’s the factor that will decide if that top ranked lifter reps your gym on his shirt as he sets records in competition or if he turns around and laughs while walking off to the next gym. It’s the integrity of your gym and what you’ll all collectively be known for when people see you with that shirt on your back. Do you want them to look at it and say “Damn they are from the Boynton Barbell Center, they must drink drink bleach for pre work out and fight bulls in between sets, or do you want them to say” Damn they are from the Boynton Barbell Center, home of the powder puff, flower fairies…Yea they don’t even fucking lift.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t like flowers and fairies never deadlifted 700lbs!


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Nothing says “This gym sucks” more than walking in on your first day to lift and there’s 400lbs left on the squat bar you want to use, there isn’t a matching dumbbell in sight, and shit’s all over the fucking place. Listen I get it that some of you are fat fucking slobs at home, but when you’re in the gym where other people actually take getting stronger seriously, be courteous and mindful of others. Pick up after yourself and put things back where they belong. It’s not other members job to play mommy.

There will never be a time where it’s necessary to take a chalk bath or throw it up in the air like LeBron James. You are NOT LeBron James! All that does is make you look like an idiot and pisses off whoever is going to have to clean it up.

Respect the equipment and use it how it’s intended to be used. If you use bands, don’t leave them tied around the rack for 6 weeks, it compromises the integrity of the band. We are in the business of lifting heavy shit and most of us are a little crazy, so we get it, shit happens and things break, but if you break something and go shove it off in the corner somewhere acting like it never happened, the next person who needs to use that piece of equipment should have the right to kick you square in the balls for being an inconsiderate dick head. If you break it, own it. Bring it up to the owner and get the problem corrected.

Contrary to popular belief,screaming, slamming weights and shaking the entire rack before a squat in fact, does NOT make you stronger. It makes you look like an idiot and everyone will formally dislike you  forever.

Learn the difference and purpose of each bar. Don’t take a deadlift bar and do clean and jerk-offs with it, or use that brand new Eleiko to do rack pulls, we will most likely hate you.

Become a Team Player

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I can’t tell you how much easier it is to lift with individuals who want to see you do better. Isolating yourself from everyone else in the room does nothing but make you look like a self-centered dick head that doesn’t want to see the gym progress. Work in groups. Quite possibly the most annoying thing is coming in on a Monday night to squat, 3 weeks out from a huge competition, and every rack is taken by lifters using within 100lbs of each other. Don’t be afraid to ask to work in together, not only will it free up other racks for more lifters to get their shit done efficiently, but it will probably end up making you push harder, thus creating a better environment for dem gainz.

I definitely understand the need to take a few minutes before and after heavy ass top sets because we all know how exhausting those can be, but if you go lean on the reverse hyper for 20 minutes in between warm ups for “social hour”, that next lifter that has been waiting to use the rack for an hour should lawfully be able to strip you of your squat rack and tell you to fuck off. It’s inconsiderate and everyone hates it.

Learn how to wrap knees and run the monolift. These skills make you invaluable at a powerlifting gym and people will want to have you around more often.

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Don’t be afraid to ask for a spot whenever needed. Your safety is important and not having spotters on heavy sets can set you up for a real shitty time. AND GOD DAMN IT, if someone asks you for a spot, you BETTER go give that person a spot whether it’s the weakest guy in the gym or the strongest, you spot them the same way and everyone gets the same respect. Learn how to spot correctly as well, nothing is more annoying than watching a video after your squat and seeing the side spotter with his hands on his hips not even looking at the lift.

Many times, you’ll see lifters at the gym that have no idea what they’re doing, go over there and offer them advice, if they deny it oh well, but remember you once had your first day in the gym when you didn’t know how to do something correctly, imagine how good it would have made you feel to see the strongest guy in the gym walk over and offer to help you correct some issues. Nothing makes a lifter want to continue to train than seeing people actually care about you.

Help load and unload weights. No one is ever going to walk up to you and ask you to help them after a heavy ass set. If you see them fatigued and having trouble, step off your pedestal and go help them put the weight on or take it off.

Form the Iron Family

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When I first started powerlifting, I was training at a gym up in Ohio called Nashdog Barbell (see previous “The Dog Days” post). This gym had a no bullshit, get shit the fuck done atmosphere, but we were all family. We loved each other and wanted to see everyone succeed. There are too many “me’s” in this world and not enough “us”. If you see the new guy walk into the gym, go start up a conversation with him. Making someone feel like they belong will create long term members and start healthy friendships, thus creating a great lifting environment. On the other hand to that statement, make sure you set the tone with how the gym is supposed to be run. Make it clear to new comers that this is our Iron Sanctuary, not your high school sleep over drama party bullshit. No one gives a shit about what is going on with Sally and Sue outside of the gym, when we come to train, we come to train. If you’re one of those people who have nothing better to do at the gym than to talk shit about what the next person is doing, do us all a favor and get the fuck out. We don’t like you and will not tolerate your bullshit.

NEVER put a weaker lifter down for giving all they have. I can’t stand seeing people at the gym whispering to each about John Smith who isn’t as strong as others in the gym yet. You were once (if not still) in their shoes and this makes you look like a condescending piece of shit. There is ALWAYS someone stronger and better than you, and quite frankly you never really see the stronger lifters putting others down who are really trying. If you see a newer guy struggling, go offer to share your knowledge and experience they will be forever thankful whether they admit it or not.

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Listen more and talk less. No one is an expert at everything, we can all learn something from someone if you shut your mouth and begin to listen. There is nothing worse than the “over night” trainer that walks in the gym trying to give everyone else incorrect advice, yet they can’t do things correctly themselves. Shut the fuck up and stay humble, because if you don’t, sooner or later someone will do it for you.

 GET OFF YOUR PHONE. It’s not time to check out who’s fucking who and who’s doing what. If you don’t come there to train like the rest of us, stay the hell home or go to LA Fitness. You’re doing nothing but isolating yourself from the gym and passing up an opportunity to learn or help someone!

Compete with each other. At the end of the day, we are all there to get better in one way or another. Don’t run from a friendly competition, even if it goes unsaid. My training partners and I always have unsaid competition and that’s why we have had successful lifting careers thus far. It’s all friends and family afterwards, but when your under the bar, you should be trying to kick everyone’s ass around you. This will boost the moral of the gym and create an environment that will thrive for many years to come.

Stay Strong my friends!~ Pat Thompson

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