Gym protocol dilemma.

  • pcsean28

    Posts: 161

    Feb 20, 2009 12:37 AM GMT
    So I work out at a local community rec center. Nice situation, never crowded, mostly ancient retirees and high school kids. Today I watched a group of high school boys (probably 15-17 yrs. old) doing bent over barbell rows. They were using a full 45 lb barbell with a 45 lb plate on each side. I'm not a trainer but that seems like a lot for kids that weigh under 150 lbs themselves, and they were using horrible technique that could put them in a wheelchair before they're 40. Hunched back, rounded shoulders, jerky, bouncy motion using A LOT of lower back. One was even using one of those ridiculous leather weightlifting garters.

    What would you do in this situation?

    For one thing I'm not a trainer, so I have no expertise in this, but they were obviously risking serious injury. I also usually try to mind my own business. So I didn't say anything... good move? Bad move? What would you guys have done?
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    Feb 20, 2009 12:48 AM GMT
    curious to hear people´s replies. I frequently see pèople doing pointless abs exercises and say nothing as they are not harming themselves. But when they are going to get hurt....
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Feb 20, 2009 1:07 AM GMT
    If I can find a way to be tactful, and the person truly appears to be new, I say something. If I was using the wrong form I'd want to know. And it pisses me off that trainers or gym staff do nothing to correct people.
  • Bunjamon

    Posts: 3161

    Feb 20, 2009 1:22 AM GMT
    I can understand your concern, but it's really not your job/responsibility to tell them what to do. At the same time, I would also want to be corrected. But teenagers don't usually like being told what to do, because they know everything. Duh.
  • Rookz

    Posts: 947

    Feb 20, 2009 1:26 AM GMT
    Bunjamon saidI can understand your concern, but it's really not your job/responsibility to tell them what to do. At the same time, I would also want to be corrected. But teenagers don't usually like being told what to do, because they know everything. Duh.


    But despite that kind of attitudes teenagers MAY portray, you shouldn't be part of that problem with that kind of attitude as well. If you feel like you want to help the kids just once, then do it. Just approach them and ask them if they need help with a proper technique, if they say no, then fine. Hats off to you for trying. But if they say yes, then show it to them once and watch and repeat. Afterwords you can walk away without having to even think about this again.
  • pcsean28

    Posts: 161

    Feb 20, 2009 1:27 AM GMT
    EricLA saidIf I can find a way to be tactful, and the person truly appears to be new, I say something. If I was using the wrong form I'd want to know. And it pisses me off that trainers or gym staff do nothing to correct people.


    Yeah that's what bothered me, the trainers, people with actual authority, doing nothing. It's also a liability issue.

    I just feel like I don't have enough expertise to go up and tell someone they're doing something wrong, I've just read articles and have enough common sense not to get hurt.
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    Feb 20, 2009 1:29 AM GMT
    I would probably not say anything. If I were a trainer, then maybe. I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Teenager's can be mouthy, defensive buggers (as can most guys or people in general!) and the last thing they want is you telling them what to do. Enjoy knowing you're not hurting your own body.
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    Feb 20, 2009 1:29 AM GMT
    I always want to know if I´m doing something wrong: there´s no point working hard if you´re working wrong.
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    Feb 20, 2009 1:31 AM GMT
    I saw a hot guy the other night doing an exercise wrong. I wondered also if I should have said anything but didn't. But man was he hot. lol
  • Rookz

    Posts: 947

    Feb 20, 2009 1:31 AM GMT
    You can just ask them if you can show them a better technique and provide a reason why with the concern that they may hurt themselves. Place the words to their concern and it seems your taking a step to helping someone for it only takes a moment of your time.
  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    Feb 20, 2009 1:33 AM GMT
    If I got a buck for every time I saw someone doing something wrong in the gym, I could quit my day job.

    As far as I am concerned, unless the person is exacting immediate massive self-inflicted trauma through being either ignorant or an asshole I'll leave them to their own devices. Having been a personal trainer for 8 years at the Univ of Virginia, guys under 25 generally all think they know how to work out and don't like being corrected, even when they know you're knowledgeable and a trainer.

    Leave it to gym staff - you're not getting paid to be the gym police. Concentrate on your own form and get a great body!

    PEACE
    daWeatherMan icon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gif
  • pcsean28

    Posts: 161

    Feb 20, 2009 1:41 AM GMT
    DrStorm saidIf I got a buck for every time I saw someone doing something wrong in the gym, I could quit my day job.

    As far as I am concerned, unless the person is exacting immediate massive self-inflicted trauma through being either ignorant or an asshole I'll leave them to their own devices. Having been a personal trainer for 8 years at the Univ of Virginia, guys under 25 generally all think they know how to work out and don't like being corrected, even when they know you're knowledgeable and a trainer.

    Leave it to gym staff - you're not getting paid to be the gym police. Concentrate on your own form and get a great body!

    PEACE
    daWeatherMan icon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gif


    Perfect response! Thanks!

    Yeah I like minding my own business and those kids did seem like know-it-alls. I like getting unsolicited tips myself, though.

    Incidentally, has anyone read "Infinite Jest" by David Foster Wallace? There's a character that sort of lives in the gym of this junior tennis academy and sits cross-legged on top of the towel dispenser imparting wisdom in return for being allowed to lick the sweat off the kids (he subsists on sweat and Caffeine-Free Diet Coke). One of the tips he gives a lot is that when doing the pull-down machine, don't use more weight than your own body weight or you'll just end up doing pull-ups. Sorry for the random aside to my own topic, but I couldn't get that image out of my head.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Feb 20, 2009 1:41 AM GMT
    If you feel comfortable enough to offer a friendly suggestion, then go for it. Be tactful and don't come off like you're trying to make them look bad.
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    Feb 20, 2009 2:15 AM GMT
    I just grab them between sets and show them proper technique, cadence, and what muscles it works on. Works really good when you're more built than they are because they'll REALLY pay attention when it comes to "how it's done" LOL!
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    Feb 20, 2009 2:19 AM GMT
    I think we are all missing the real factors here....

    Are they... "jailbait"? icon_twisted.gif
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Feb 20, 2009 2:22 AM GMT
    Try using "I statements." That way those kids will know it's your opinion (sorry, inside joke between Sean and I).

    Umm... I have come across a few people at the gym doing stuff really out of form, and they were surprisingly friendly when I corrected them. You don't have to be rude about it or an authority. A lot of times I would just mention, hey, you'll get a better workout if you drop your shoulders and keep yours abs in. Nothing major, and if they asked for the full-out form, I'd demonstrate. But then again, it's not your duty to do any of this.
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    Feb 20, 2009 2:40 AM GMT
    Lostboy saidI always want to know if I´m doing something wrong: there´s no point working hard if you´re working wrong.


    exactly
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    Feb 20, 2009 2:47 AM GMT
    Depends on what I see them doing, if it truly puts them at high risk for injury, I will approach them and ask if I can give them a few tips to make them do less reps and get better results. Usually works well, and doesn't offend anyone. Have been told they were fine, and didn't offend me one bit.

    Though I was a trainer for a long time, being a leaner guy doesn't always get you the best response in some gyms, so I am careful who I approach. Though I have made a friends with a few guys who had bad technique and helped them a little over time. You do what you can.
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    Feb 20, 2009 4:05 AM GMT
    No, mind your own business.

    People in the gym don't like to be told what to do, even if they think they're doing something wrong. Here's the typical perception..

    * Really-fit guy offering unsolicited advice == arrogant jerk

    * Not-so-fit guy offering unsolicited advice == clueless jerk

    I only intervene when I see someone writhing in pain between sets, or doing some crazy movement that could injure other persons near by.
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    Feb 20, 2009 4:19 AM GMT
    I have to say I agree with DrStorm and XRichX:

    Unless they are stabbing themselves in the eyes, I'd leave it alone too. A large portion of what happens in gyms is either useless or potentially damaging. It's great that you could empathize with those guys and wanted to help them but it would have been pretty brutal to say "I don't know much but I know that's not how you do this because you could be really sorry about it in 20 years." Yikes.

    I mind my own business and let people do their thing. I WAS one of those kids years ago. Thankfully I have had some good trainers along the way who have corrected me. I'm *still* a work in progress.

    Great question. And good answers back from all of you.
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    Feb 20, 2009 6:53 AM GMT
    The comment: * Really-fit guy offering unsolicited advice == arrogant jerk. * not-so-fit guy offering unsolicited advice == clueless jerk pretty well sums it up.

    Over my 33 years in the gym, I've finally reached a conclusion that if I show someone, without approaching them, how to do a movement, it might stick, but, then, it might not. Some folks can be shown, told the logic, told the method, and there's no talking sense to them. I've given up on that...especially with youthfully arrogant folks. I'll show them the movement, by doing it properly, and that it often gets their attention, but, many folks are just not coachable. Ironically, they're the first to lash out at others upon their failures. Go figure.
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    Feb 20, 2009 7:15 AM GMT
    There is this massive (ex-NFL?) guy at my gym. When I see him, I try to hide because he ALWAYS offers everyone, including me, unsolicited workout advice. And this dude is aggressive (and huge and intimidating), so you just grin and take it. Once, my partner was doing lat pulldowns, and this guy kept yelling, "wrong, wrong!" He then proceeded to invade my partner's personal space, forcing him to correct his mildly bad form. This guy will take over your whole routine if you let him. Mind you, his advice is very sound, but he's so "in your face" about it. I joke around and say stuff like, "that's not on my workout plan today," or "Muscle and Fitness says to do it this way with a two minute rest," but to no avail - he just scoffs but definitely doesn't get the message to bug off.

    Bottom line: If you approach someone with workout advice, ASK first if they want it, and DON'T monopolize their time in the gym. Say what you have to say or show what you have to show (with discretion) and then move on. Otherwise, it's generally bad gym etiquette to correct others' form. I've only said something to another gym bunny once, and that was when a guy was about to blow a knee out doing leg presses the wrong way. He didn't appreciate it. Go figure. icon_confused.gif
  • pcsean28

    Posts: 161

    Feb 20, 2009 7:43 AM GMT
    calibro saidTry using "I statements." That way those kids will know it's your opinion (sorry, inside joke between Sean and I).

    Umm... I have come across a few people at the gym doing stuff really out of form, and they were surprisingly friendly when I corrected them. You don't have to be rude about it or an authority. A lot of times I would just mention, hey, you'll get a better workout if you drop your shoulders and keep yours abs in. Nothing major, and if they asked for the full-out form, I'd demonstrate. But then again, it's not your duty to do any of this.


    Yeah, someone should do a UEP on this. "Lot's of people don't know what it's like to be the only guy in the whole gym who knows everything about weight lifting"
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    Feb 20, 2009 7:55 AM GMT
    ruck_us saidThere is this massive (ex-NFL?) guy at my gym. When I see him, I try to hide because he ALWAYS offers everyone, including me, unsolicited workout advice. And this dude is aggressive (and huge and intimidating), so you just grin and take it.>


    Hey ruck_us. You need to tell this guy to take a hike. That's unbelievable. So what if he's huge. He's being a complete a**hole.
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    Feb 20, 2009 8:20 AM GMT
    ruck_us saidThere is this massive (ex-NFL?) guy at my gym. When I see him, I try to hide because he ALWAYS offers everyone, including me, unsolicited workout advice. And this dude is aggressive (and huge and intimidating), so you just grin and take it. Once, my partner was doing lat pulldowns, and this guy kept yelling, "wrong, wrong!" He then proceeded to invade my partner's personal space, forcing him to correct his mildly bad form. This guy will take over your whole routine if you let him. Mind you, his advice is very sound, but he's so "in your face" about it. I joke around and say stuff like, "that's not on my workout plan today," or "Muscle and Fitness says to do it this way with a two minute rest," but to no avail - he just scoffs but definitely doesn't get the message to bug off.



    I ran into this years ago except the guy in question forcing advice on everyone in the gym was an ugly pot bellied toad with a greasy bald-on-top mullet who thought he was a trainer. The advice he was giving wasn't even good. He just thought everyone should be following his workout.

    One day I was working out with my bf at the time and he came up and yelled at me saying that I would never get big using such small weights and that he warmed up with twice the weight I was using.

    I calmly racked my dumbbells, put on my biggest dumb innocent face and said. "But I don't want to look like you." My bf and half a dozen others within earshot almost crapped themselves laughing. The toad turned red in the face and stomped off into the corner to do dangerously sloppy clean and jerks and never bugged me again.