Commenting on a fellow trainee’s form seems to be the ultimate no-no in today’s fitness clubs.
Recently I’ve seen some poor deadlifting form in my gym. Basic stuff: rounding of the lower back, hyper-extending at the top of the lift, that kind of thing. But gym etiquette dictates that you can’t say anything to people if you are a fellow gym-goer as they will be mightily offended.
Now, I do have some sympathy with this. Weightlifting is an emotional thing! I’ve been on the receiving end of helpful advice and it can be hard to take. I have actually found it more fruitful to ask for advice on the internet using my video clips. It’s easier to be honest with yourself when the session is over and you’ve watched your clips. You can keep the emotion out of it.
I wasn’t sure what the role of the gym instructor was in this scenario as I’ve never seen any gym staff approach a member who is using bad form and offer advice. So I was interested to read in Steve Pulcinella’s blog that he has virtually given up trying to advise people in his Iron Sport Gym:
“And before you all jump down my throat for being the gym owner and not helping them let me just say this, “I have, believe me”. I don’t know if it’s a male ego thing or if people are just scared of a 320lb guy telling them what to do but everytime I try to nicely correct somebody they act like I just spit in their face. So until somebody asks me for advice they can just keep doing pulldowns until the bar is in their lap and 2″ range of motion leg presses as long as they keep paying their membership.”
I see where he’s coming from! But I think gyms have a responsibility to foster a culture where members are encouraged to seek advice. There will always be some stubborn idiots who won’t, but for the rest of us the gym can be intimidating enough without having to go and ask for advice or a spotter.
Asking for advice isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength and determination to succeed. Why can’t gyms do more to encourage this? Instead of having “tummy sessions”, they should run a 10-minute “deadlifting 101 session” in the free weights room. Or play Dan John’s seminar clips on the tv screens instead of MTV.
I would like to thank publicly everyone who has helped me with my lifting, both online and offline. I’ve made enormous progress thanks to the sound advice I’ve been given. I’d even like to thank the guy in Jubilee Hall Gym, Covent Garden, to whom I was a bit sniffy when he dared to comment on my grip style!
What do you think, people? How can we solve this issue?
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