By Mario Strong

Being a person that has spent quite a bit of time in bodybuilding gyms, I have come across some behaviors that range from absurd to idiotic. The list of bad behavior includes not putting the weights back after use, using foul language in front of the ladies, and spitting on the gym floor. These are sure signs of an inconsiderate person but I can understand the limited mentality. I will never understand, however, is when a trainee is “lifting heavy” on the Bench Press, Squat, or some other exercise and needs a strong spotter to perform every repetition with him. I don’t know about you but I rarely ever use a spotter. Not having someone assist me during my workouts ensures that I’m going to push the steel very hard and with everything I’ve got in order to complete my reps. It also tells me exactly how my training is progressing, unlike someone that is using ten spotters and a crane to set a new personal record and has no clue of how much they could actually lift on their own. I remember back in the mid-70s when I would assist guys at my gym with their training. Every day there was always a member or two that would load a barbell with more weight than they could possibly handle and have a spotter assist them in performing their exercises. Most of the time these members couldn’t even complete one repetition on their own, but with the assistance of a spotter they would bang out several reps and receive high-fives for their “big accomplishments.” On more than one occasion, I fell into the trap of assisting these over-zealous trainees with their lifting and was rewarded with severe strains in both forearms for my efforts. After getting tired of being injured while spotting some of these guys during the Bench Press, I came up with a solution to make them stop asking me for assistance. That solution was simply to drop the barbell on them! I’m always willing to help a trainee complete his final rep but if he can’t get at least one good rep on his own, after he told me he wanted a clean set of six, than he had better not ask me for assistance.

The same bad habits and behaviors that existed over thirty years ago in bodybuilding gyms still exist today. In 2009, while training at a gym, I watched a member perform squats while receiving a spot from a workout partner that stood behind him. This workout partner assisted the trainee by wrapping his arms around his upper torso. It looked as if the workout partner was doing more lifting than the trainee was. He pulled the trainee up on every rep performed. What kind of help is that? Unfortunately, this is something I see all too often in our gyms.

Another thing that boggles my mind is watching bodybuilders on completion of their workouts exit the gym and smoke cigarettes with their friends. With all the educational materials available about the dangers of smoking and with the media continually advertising the benefits of quitting, you would think that today’s generation would get the hint. Bodybuilding is supposed to be a healthy way of life, but I guess for some, it is just a way to get big biceps and pectorals. Years ago, there was a member of my gym named Warren that was a regular at the club. Warren was always joking around and did not take his training too seriously. One day, while in my gym, he decided to light up and smoke a cigarette, thinking it would be funny. He was wrong! As a couple of members voiced their disapproval, I walked over to where the smell of smoke was coming from and told Warren to exit the gym immediately. While laughing he blew smoke in my face, which caused me to respond in a very angry manner. Without hesitation, I smacked him across his jaw and sent him flying over an exercise bench. After several gym members helped him to his feet, I terminated his membership and threw him and his cigarettes out of the club. About a year later, Warren came back to my gym and apologized for his stupid behavior. He also stated that he had kicked the habit and was looking to get back into shape. I was glad to see he had the strength to beat the nicotine addiction and signed him up for another year of quality pain.

There is an old Strong saying that every now and then needs repeating. It goes like this: “Of all the senses, common sense is the least common,” I think those words say it all when referring to some of the odd behaviors within our gyms and society in general. As bodybuilders, if we cannot act properly in a place where fitness and health shine, then what hope is there of us ever becoming well-rounded individuals that not only seek respect but show it as well?




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