Spacial Awareness

My idea for today’s post came into my head while I was running my hill this morning. Now that I’m doing so much “conditioning” crap, this is where I get a lot of my ideas. You’d be surprised at how much shit pops into your head when you’re trying to stand up straight and not bend over with your hands on your knees when you’re gassed.

Anyway, I run this same hill two or three times a week, and there’s a parking lot at the base of it. Between the absolute bottom of the hill (my starting line) and the parking lot is a bike lane, so there’s about a ten-foot buffer zone. You park, then walk about five steps, and you’re at the beginning of the hill. This is NOT a busy park during the week, and typically, when I’m running the hill early in the morning, the only people I’ll see are runners. They come past me on the bike path maybe once every five minutes or so, and none of them ever want to stop and talk, which is fine by me.

So, there I am running up and down the hill and getting exhausted, when a guy and a girl pull up, park one space over from my car, and just sit there doing nothing. Meanwhile, this park is HUGE – with several empty parking lots they could have used, including one directly across from the one I was in. They chose, however, to inexplicably park right behind the only guy in the park who was actually doing anything worth a shit.

What made it worse was that that the guy was talking very loudly in some sort of “hip-hop” vernacular, which was very strange, because this park is located in a fairly affluent suburb where the only place he would be exposed to that style of speech would be on the MTV.

Awareness in the Gym

I should have said something, but I didn’t. I just did my last trips up, walked it off, then went home. The whole thing, however, got me thinking about awareness in the gym – both with coaching athletes and in terms of regular commercial gym workouts.

As a high school coach, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone ballistic at kids because they’re not paying attention to what’s going on in the weight room. Let’s say you have a really strong high school lineman who’s comfortable with over 405 pounds on his back. For any high school kid, that’s going to be a lot. And even if you have a kid who can handle it, he’s still not going to manage it as well as an adult. What drives me up a f-ing wall is seeing kids doing that kind of weight, while the rest of the kids around him are dicking around and not paying attention – especially the ones who are supposed to be spotting.


I’ve actually had kids walk into the bar when another kid is under a significant amount of weight. This sends me into an absolute frenzy. When I see one of our guys dreaming about chasing butterflies instead of being completely focused when there’s someone in his vicinity putting in a massive amount of effort, there’s just about nothing worse, at least to me, that can happen in a weight room. It’s monumentally disrespectful, and I don’t think any program should tolerate it.

The same thing applies in commercial gyms. I train a few days a week in fairly commercial gym because it’s down the street from where I live, and I don’t feel like driving 45 minutes to train every day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a rack (or an open rack) with a decent amount of weight on my back, only to have some 19 year old kid decide to stand three feet behind me doing upright rows with a 30-pound fixed barbell.

This makes me really tired.

Something similar actually happened yesterday. When you’re a reasonably strong guy who’s squatting “heavy,” I think the area behind the power rack is definitely a no-fly zone, especially when there’s not a lot of room and there are other places people can go. Yesterday, there was a guy doing bent rows (with 25’s on each side) at the rack next to mine. Instead of staying in his rack, he moved over toward my side to do his rows behind me and slightly to my left. I think he wanted a better view of himself in the mirror.

In other words, I’m busting my ass squatting, and some dude, who had 20-30 feet in either direction to work with, chooses to come within five feet of me to do some bullshit exercise – then proceeds to stand behind me for the five minute rests he was taking between sets.

Yeah, I’m pissing and moaning a lot about bullshit, but this just isn’t necessary.

Again, when you have room, and you have options, the key to not being a slapdick is to be aware of the people around you. When you see someone who’s putting in a shitload of effort doing something that’s potentially dangerous, you need to be respectful of that. If you can’t, you don’t belong in the weight room.