My grudge against gyms…

…and fitness hucksters in general.

One thing you’ll see often here is how to make or set up all or part of a home gym for cheap. Another thing you’ll see often is my making fun of corporate gyms like Planet Fitness (fatness).

I’ll explain.

When I started all of this, it was originally to get in shape for the Highland games. Like anyone vaguely familiar with the internet, I turned to Google for direction. It eventually led me to to the information I sought. Big heavy compound movements like the Power lifts (Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift) and the Olympic Lifts (Snatch and Clean and Jerk) were the way to go as far as weight training for picking up heavy shit and throwing it around.

I sought the advice of a trainer or coach after that. I turned first to my closest Planet Fitness franchise.

Upon entering, I asked about what the trainers could teach me. I was shown an example of one of the workouts they had printed up on little reference sheets for them. I asked about free weights and was shown, behind the third row of machines, two bench press benches, a smith machine and a single squat rack. I asked about dead lifting and Olympic lifting as it didn’t seem like there was enough room for either.

The girl who was assisting me looked confused. I explained what the O lifts were.

“Oh,” she replied “you shouldn’t put the bar over your head like that. It’s bad for you.”

It was then that she told me about the tanning beds and the pizza night that current customers (victims) could bring their friends to.

I decided then and there that this was bullshit. Tanning beds are bad for you, why is O lifting getting slandered? What the hell is the point of pizza at a gym that focuses on weight loss? Yes, I knew that I stumbled into the judgment free zone where people who don’t scream like animals when working out are supposed to be allowed to exercise in peace with out fear of being intimidated by elite lifters. But trust me I was, and still am, no where near elite.

Is a power clean with an empty bar that intimidating?

I still refuse to go back. I have little tolerance for hucksters. Especially when it comes to something like a gym. Quit selling your clients “lean and sexy” and start talking about health and performance. As it turns out, most of the gyms in my area are pretty much the same. I’d have to drive almost 200 miles to get real coaching on the O-lifts. So I decided that for the most part, gyms are for separating people from their money and not much else.* That started me on the road to eventually blogging about my workouts with old tires and PVC pipe.

Planet Fatness, you have roused my ire.

*Here you’ll find an excellent video of Mark Rippetoe and Dan John discussing a number of truly awesome things. Towards the end, there are some incredibly insightful bits about how and why corporate gyms are what they are today.

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