Friday, November 22, 2013

On Gym Bros

I was recently reading my good friend Jeff Ford's blog Mindsilt, and he posted this:

Go read it.

Come back.

Okay, are you back?


Okay. So I was just ruminating on Gym Bros, and Gym Bro culture.

Now close your eyes (and read this through your closed eyelids) and we will ruminate together. Picture it- you have finished your warm up, and stepped into the free weight area of your local gym. You are seriously ready to crush some squats and lunges because you have been reading up, and you know that those two exercises will help you build TONS of functional strength. When you get to the free weight area, you notice that all 3 of the squat racks are occupied. In one, you see someone squatting to half depth. You vaguely remember an article you read that says that this is kind of a bad thing, but you think maybe this fellow has bad knees or something. You see another squat rack is occupied by a woman who is five feet tall, and very quietly, without drawing much attention to herself, squatting like, 250 pounds to full depth multiple times. For some reason, this is the only woman in the free weight area.

On the third squat rack, you see a pack of wily gym bros. The gym bros have pulled a bench up to the squat rack and converted it for bench pressing. You hear one gym bro say something about blasting his pecs to another gym bro before "discretely" flexing his arm at a nearby mirror. Then, after loading up some weights, one gym bro lies down on the bench. He shouts SPOT ME BRO! And one of the other bros, who is wearing a t-shirt that says "SWOLE" on the front, and has a picture of Jesus on the Crucifix on the back runs behind, and gingerly puts his fingers under the bar. The bench-bound bro lifts the bar off of the rack, and cranks out five reps. Each time he does a rep, he screams like someone kicked him in the nuts. It is a deep guttural scream that shakes the gym mirrors. Everyone in the free weight area turns, and watches as the gym bro blasts his pecs.

When he finishes, he jumps off the rack, fist bumps his bros, and then starts talking very loudly about women who they would like to "Bang." They are somehow able to engage in this discussion despite the fact that they have mothers and sisters. This continues on for a full hour. The gym bros never do any other exercises. They just do reps of bench press, and say horrible things about women, and scream. Sometimes they take a swig from a blender bottle filled with protein drink- probably Muscle Milk, because that shit is delicious brah.

As you stand there watching this scene, it occurs to you that this gym culture is not for you. Perhaps you will try yoga, or go use a treadmill for an hour. Maybe you will just go home and watch four episodes of "Breaking Bad" before falling asleep on top of an empty pizza box. I mean, if this is what weightlifters are like, why would anyone want to be a weightlifter?

Okay, open your eyes and let's talk.

It kind of kills me that this is probably a relatively common scene in gyms across America. Many people in the U.S. will never lift a weight because they feel intimidated by Gym Bros. They believe that the free weight areas of most gyms are dominated by sweaty dumbasses who peaked after scoring the winning touchdown in their high school football championship game back in 2003. I mean, Planet Fitness, which is a really crappy chain of gyms, has made insane amounts of money by advertising themselves as being a gym that is devoid of gym bros. People are so intimidated by these knuckleheads that they will willingly sign up for a gym where you are not allowed to do deadlifts. So, yes, Gym bros are a problem.

I want to take a moment to point out a few things, and maybe encourage you to stick around in that free weight area the next time you're in the gym despite the Gym Bros.

Some points:

1. In any free weight area, there are going to be Gym Bros. This is a simple fact of gym life. Even the best gyms with the fewest douchebags have one or two of these guys walking around at any given time. However, they are the MINORITY of people at the gym. In fact, they are generally the MINORITY of people in the free weight area. Those screaming idiots in the scenario above? They're just three guys. There were probably like, 15 other people in that free weight area who were mostly being very quiet, keeping to themselves, and doing their routine.

2. I think a lot of people are intimidated by gym bros because they assume that they know what they are doing. Usually they don't. I mean, sometimes they do. Sometimes. But usually Gym bros are the guys who never train legs, think curls are somehow important, and down products with names like "ANABOLIC RAGE" before working out. The lady doing squats in the above scenario is the person who clearly knew her shit. Not the gym bros.

3. Generally speaking, gym bros will leave you alone. Yes sometimes gym bros will come up and say something critical, or if you are a woman, sexist to you. You can ignore them. Or tell them to fuck off. This will usually make them go away. If not, you can complain to the desk at your gym. But generally, they keep to themselves even if they are clearly yelling in a way that is meant to attract the attention of everyone in creation.

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't let the bastards grind you down. Please don't think that Gym Bros are somehow indicative of everyone who lifts weights. They aren't. And please, PLEASE don't let the presence of Gym Bros dissuade you from lifting weights. Lifting weights is great for you. Yes, they are loud, and take up too much room, and are generally obnoxious, but they don't own the free weight area. And they shouldn't dissuade you from doing something awesome for your health.

It's there for everyone. Now, go do some squats.