Tunnel Vision

I happen to lift in a university/college setting, which is a step above a commercial gym but isn't as hardcore as a private strength compound. I've lifted and worked as a personal trainer in a “big box” commercial gym for the majority of my “training years,” and I’ve wasted a lot of energy, not from my own training but from getting frustrated after witnessing the absurd acts of the other “gym goers” around me.

It’s very common to walk into a commercial gym or fitness center and see the most asinine movements being demonstrated without any rational purpose. Being educated and also a little temperamental, it’s been extremely difficult to hold back my rage. I mean I've seen multiple people attempting triceps kickbacks while standing on a Bosu ball on one leg!

I wouldn’t be so concerned if this stuff wasn’t being performed right in front of the beloved dumbbell rack. Seeing “curl off” 2011 going on in the squat rack next to me also makes the hair on my arms stand up. I mean, dude, you have two and a half pounds on each side of the bar. And stop flexing your 11-inch pipe cleaners.


Personal training in a fitness center is even more difficult, not necessarily because of the members but because of some of the personal trainers that are considered your “coworkers.” Seeing trainers sitting “Indian style” and texting while their clients perform endless sets of crunches really chaps my ass. I’ve seen trainers take clients through training sessions and perform exercises that are absolutely pointless and sometimes dangerous. For example, having an elderly man who just had shoulder surgery perform a squat into an upright row as a first exercise (without any warm up) could be a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Sometimes trainers get paid to talk while their clients are doing “pointless” 10-minute walks on the treadmill for a warm up. I often wonder if clients purposely perform exercises with horrible technique just to see if their trainers will correct them (usually their trainer is just staring at the clock). Providing your client with all your attention will make you a much better trainer and your clients will take notice.

The Solution?

So what’s the solution to all this insanity? Throw a 45-lb plate across the gym? Stab every Bosu ball with a steak knife? Slap the “Jersey Shore” wannabe across the back of the neck? Those all seemed like logical resolutions, but honestly, just thinking about this stuff increases my blood pressure. The most rational thing to do is have tunnel vision.

Go into the gym with 100 percent focus on your training session or your clients. You really can’t control the ignorance going on around you, but you can control how much intensity you bring to your next set of deadlifts or the instruction you give your client on how to perform a proper squat.

Tunnel Vision

Having tunnel vision will help you avoid wasting energy on stuff that, at the end of the day, really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the effectiveness of training sessions and striving to achieve greatness every time you step foot in the gym.

Next time you’re tempted to drop a dumbbell on some idiot's head or slap a cell phone out of another trainer's hand, refocus your efforts on to breaking that squat PR or training your client to move some serious weight. You’ll be better than your best in no time.