I know a lot of people who will recognise what I am about to talk about today. They will either recognise the subject as something they have done or recognise they have been a victim of this many times; if not daily. What I am about to talk about is the absolutely worst things you can do in a gym!
As a trainer or instructor, you are trained from the very outset to look after your clients. It is engrained into you to make sure that your client is maintaining proper posture, so as to avoid injury and hit the targeted muscle, using the correct weight, to avoid injury and cause the targeted adaptation, and carrying out the correct number of repetitions, so as to avoid injury and cause the targeted adaptation. There is a common theme, as you can probably see for yourself, in what we do and that is to make sure you avoid injury.
I am absolutely all for new people coming into the gym to get fit. In fact I absolutely implore you to do so. However, the first of the worst things you can do in a gym that I want to talk about is this: Don’t go into a gym thinking you know it all already!
Even people who go into bodybuilding shows and personal trainers who have been spending years in the industry still go to seminars, courses and even take advice from other trainers. This is because no one in the whole world knows everything. When you go into the sports science behind fitness it becomes evident very fast that the amount we actually know for a fact is, in fact, very little. So when you rock up to the gym in your pristine gym kit and start dumbell curling, barbell curling, hammer curling and cable curling for 30 minutes on each exercise because you want big arms do not be surprised if you get a fitness instructor or personal trainer coming over to you. I can tell you for a fact we see absolutely everything in a gym. If you think big brother is bad for spotting crimes in the street I can tell you now any fitness instructor worth their qualification can spot shit form or a poor plan from 400m minimum. If we spot you doing something dangerous, or even useless, we will come over to you to try and “optimise” what you are doing. This leads me onto the next and most abhorrent of the worst things you can do in a gym. Do not ever tell a trainer or instructor to fuck off when they ask if they can give you some advice!
Ego is one of my biggest hates in the gym. You always get some douche come in who’s training plan is all over the place, who over work minor muscle groups, and doesn’t work the major ones enough, lifting massively heavy weights that are way above their ability to lift with safe form and any form they do have is eye wateringly cringe inducing and you can almost count down to injury. As a trainer you look at this person and I can guarantee you take a look at them and make a snap decision: is this guy going to be a dick if I try and help him or is he going to be responsive? We have all been there.
I really struggle even if I know the guy will mug me off no to say something because I am a complete philanthropist. So despite my brain saying ” no don’t suffer the embarrassment of this clown telling you where to go again” I always go over:
“Excuse me buddy, do you mind if I have a quick…” I start but am interrupted by:
“Nah mate. Fuck off…” and then a dismissive wave of the hand or point of the thumb.
This is bad for your health for one of two reasons. The first reason, and more poignant of the two, is that we are human beings. Unfortunately as human beings we aren’t perfect. Any psychologist, or person versed in conflict resolution, will tell you if you degrade, embarrass or humiliate someone then they will potentially react in one of two ways and you will trigger a fight or flight like response where by they either wither and go inside their shell and fume or, they go the other way, and you get debriefed and kicked out the gym for being an arse. Due to the professionalism of most instructors you are probably looking at the prior but on a bad day when said pt is on a cut and low on carbs and has a mood swing… stand by!
The second reason is a bit simpler and is a lot easier to understand why it is one of the worst things you can do in the gym. We are your friends! Our sole purpose is to make sure you reach your goals. If you were thirsty in a desert and we brought you water you wouldn’t tell us to go away, so why, when you are massively bluffing it in a gym (hopefully) thirsty for knowledge, would you do it when we bring you said knowledge???
If we have come over then it is because you are doing something dangerous or useless and we want to protect and/or help you. By being rude not only does it make us want to wrap you round the squat rack you are currently defaming with your gash form but it usually makes any future help, when you realise you are injuring yourself and not getting anywhere, much harder to get.
If you have read this and realised you are doing it then I want you to ask yourself why. Why when someone has tried to help you have you been rude and dismissive? Even if you know what it is they’ve just told you then you have just been told that you need to work on it and can therefore progress. However, if they tell you something you didn’t know then you have just gained a massively valuable piece of information that you would have otherwise missed out on. Either way you win! Next time we come over have a chat with us glean some knowledge, and teach us a few things if you are more advanced than us. Sharing is caring.
Ego is literally the baddest of bad when it comes to the worst things you can do in the gym!
Leave ego at the door. The gym is for learning and progressing. You are there to progress yourself but at the same time the professionals there shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not you are going to be an arse if they feel they need to speak to you. This especially applies on technical moves like squats. No one has ever got perfect form but just because someone else cant do it perfectly doesn’t mean they can’t spot you doing it wrong.
I will often ask people to watch me when I squat because I have a bad habit of letting my ass tuck under if I go to low. I do this because my ego is left outside when I train. Try it and I promise it makes the gym a lot more social and enjoyable.
I hope you can see why these are the worst things you can do in a gym. I would love to know your thoughts on the subject. Feel free to leave comments at the bottom as usual or hit us up on social media.