Once again, this week I am going to sound like a grumpy old man ranting but this is an important topic that needs to be addressed.
Our culture is eroding, and not slowly.
When a culture erodes it is usually for one of a few reasons:
- Mores and taboos aren’t properly passed on
I’m going to go with the former here for our (Gym) culture.
It is up to us, the veteran lifters and gym rats to pass on the culture and environment that has been created.
At TPS I have strived to create a training environment that is second to none, while honoring the mores and taboos that have been passed down to me over the many years in many gyms.
The gym is a place you go to TRAIN. It’s not for social hour or a dating scene.
That’s what fitness centers and health clubs are. If you belong to a gym, treat it that way.
Like a gym.
If that is not what you want, join a health club.
Here is a handy guide to keeping the gym culture alive.
Please Live, Learn and Pass this on.
First off, RESPECT your gym.
I am not writing this as a gym owner; rather as one who was raised right by other gym rats.
I believe that if you behave in a manner in which you should be struck, and someone punches you in the face, it’s your fault.
However, we can’t go around punching assholes in the face or we would go to jail, so here is my first piece of advice:
Don’t be an asshole. Sounds simple right?
You’d be surprised how many people just don’t get this.
When you go to the gym do you:
- Put your shit all over the floor and take up all kinds of space with no regard for others?
- Put your shit all over other pieces of equipment and tie it up so others can’t use it because you need a place for your stuff?
- Not rack your weights?
- Have your phone out and do more social media browsing and photo taking for the “Gram” than training?
- Add constant Facebook status updates while you are “training”?
- Disrupt the training environment of everyone else because you are so cool and special that everyone needs to look at you?
- Talk on your phone in the middle of the gym while others are there to train?
- Piss all over the bathroom toilet seat because it’s not your house?
- Throw paper towels on the bathroom floor?
- Not flush the toilet or urinal?
- Text your coach, friends or whoever constantly?
If you answered yes to any of these you are an asshole.
Rule #1 in life, don’t be an asshole.
Let’s look at the things I wrote above and treat this essay as a lesson in cultural etiquette.
I know that society is evolving and is different than when I was a kid AND that phones are a huge part of this evolution.
However, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
Having a smart phone that is more powerful than the original NORAD computers is pretty cool, let’s use them for good.
Acceptable uses for your phone:
- Using the camera (in a respectful way) to record your sets for evaluation, and yes, even to post on your social media later.
- Tracking your training in an app.
- Talking, texting, reading the news, browsing social media and being a nuisance in general. I am not a fan of using an app to track your progress as you will be tempted to do other things on your phone when you see some type of notification.
- Listen kids, everyone can get away from the world for an hour or two a day and FOCUS on their training. Put the phone away.
- I shoot video occasionally in training, but I make a point to only open the camera app and never check anything else. Once the video is shot, or the photo is taken the phone goes away.
More on the phone, in industry surveys, one of the biggest complaints from gym members is having to listen to someone else’s phone conversation.
Put Your Effing Phone Away
At TPS, we have signs all over the gym that say this. Even so, I still have to tell people occasionally that it is not allowed.
They are usually standing right in front of one of these signs too, and they say they didn’t know.
Really, you didn’t see the 50 signs all over the gym?
You and your conversation are not that interesting. No one wants to hear it. Go to the lobby if you are sooooo important that you can’t not make a call during training.
I said earlier that people do things in public they wouldn’t usually do at home, like piss all over the toilet seat or throw trash on the floor.
As a kid, we were taught that this is not acceptable behavior.
Now, it is pretty common to see people do it. I see this in my bathroom at least twice a day at TPS.
The gym may not be your home, but it is YOUR gym. You should respect it.
And what kind of savage does these things?
I’d like to catch someone doing it. My first instinct would be to wipe the seat up with their face, but a better choice would be to call their mother and ask her if she taught her son (or daughter) to be a dirty, filthy animal.
Simple advice here: don’t be a pig.
More on behavior:
Just about every gym has a locker room or some area where you can store your stuff. Use it.
- Be mindful that there are others in the gym who are there to train, and don’t take up a lot of space.
- Your behavior shouldn’t take up a lot of space either.
- Bring what you need into the weight room and regulate your behavior.
- Train, have some fun, go home.
The Olden Days:
I started going to gyms when I was 13. Unbelievably, I went to a gym the next town over from where I grew up and signed a membership contract.
Who sells a contract to a 13 year old?
I also had no idea what to do or how to act.
Luckily, there were plenty of people there willing to teach me the mores and taboos. They taught me some basics and the things to do, like racking your weights and wiping your gross sweat off the benches.
I adopted the mores.
Back then there were not a lot of gyms so if you wanted to go to one, you played by the rules.
If you were being an idiot, you got kicked out. Yes. You got kicked out.
There was not Yelp then.
Today, if you kick someone out for their behavior, they go on Yelp and write a bunch of bullshit about you and they do not take responsibility for their own assholery.
At TPS we teach the new members about how to be a good member and make the most of training time in our supervised training groups.
We pass on the culture.
We teach them to spot, load, encourage each other, to be a little competitive, and how to set up their own equipment and break it down after. We can run a group of 20 or more people and at the end of the training sessions, the room is nice and organized because that is the culture we teach.
In the main gym, if we see a problem we will usually wait and see if the veteran members take care of it (they usually do) and if not, I’ll bring the offenders in the office and have a talk with them.
I haven’t had to do this since we moved into the new space, but may need to soon….I hope not.
When I do, I don’t yell and lecture, rather I try to explain the culture and that it needs to be respected.
It’s worked most of the time, others, the members were asked to leave and find another gym.
The goal when doing this is not to embarrass or demean someone, it is to give them awareness of the things that are expected of them and to help them be a productive member of our society. I have also seen that when I do this, their training usually gets more serious and focused.
It benefits them.
It also benefits us, we now have a new group of serious and hard training members as opposed to a cancer that needs to be cut out.
If you are a veteran gym member, Live, Learn and Pass On your culture.
- Teach the new members to respect the gym.
- Teach them to train hard.
- Teach them how to set up stuff, like power rack, or proper placement of chains on a bar.
- Teach them that they are here to train and get Strong(er).
- Teach them to leave the area better than they found it.
- By doing this, you will cultivate an atmosphere where respect is earned and so is the strength you came in for.
If you are one of the people who answered yes to the list of questions I opened with, just stop.
Thanks for reading.
TPS needs your vote.
- Best Gym
- Best Personal Trainers
- Best Boot Camp
This is a popularity contest meaning most votes wins.
We are up against some BIG BOX gyms that have thousands of members and every vote counts.
If you like my logs and have a few minutes to spare, please give us a vote in one or all three categories.
The site is a bit confusing to vote on.
If you vote in one category, say Best Gym, you can go back to the Fitness category and click on the other ones, such as Best Personal Trainer and vote in all three.
Best Personal Trainer
Best Boot Camp
This Saturday July 29th we are running the Malden’s Strongest Contest to benefit Housing Families.
We will be at the Idle Hands Tap room in Malden and the event starts at 12:00 noon and runs til about 3:00 pm.
Watch some awesome Strongman, drink some beer, eat some food and raise some loot for a great cause.
I hope to see you there wearing your best EliteFTS t shirt.
Thanks to EliteFTS for sponsoring again this year as they always do.
Find me on Google-search for Total Performance Sports Malden, Mass. The Best Gym in Boston, Facebook too.
Oh, yeah, follow us on Instagram too. TPSMalden
Vincere vel mori