Monthly Archives: December 2016
Just in time for the Christmas and holidays, Mid-South Spine and Sports Performance is proud to announce our new T-Shirt line! We have kept the first run of apparel simple and will be offering a limited supply of this black version featuring the clinic logo on the front as well as our alternative logo and motto on the back. This is a very soft and light weight T-shirt made of 100% cotton. We have sizes S-XXL.
T-Shirts can be purchased during office hours, by emailing email@example.com, or by filling out a form at the front desk at NBS Fitness. Supplies are limited, so get your Mid-South SSP T-Shirt while they are still available!
Now that Christmas is over, I don’t feel so bad smashing a few of your previously held incorrect beliefs (don’t worry, I won’t tell you that Santa isn’t real…oops!). Well, to be honest, at one time I also believed that Santa was real and likewise I once believed that going on a hypertrophy protocol for powerlifting was a good thing to do. But…it’s really not. Here is why:
It’s not Zumba, it’s weight training
Your body is going to build muscle in response to resistance training, regardless of what title you decide to put on header of your excel sheet. Hypertrophy occurs as the result of three different stimuli: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle protein breakdown. In layman’s terms, your body builds muscle in response to weight training. Have you ever seen a high level competitive lifter in any iron sport (powerlifting, olympic lifting, strongman, CrossFit) that didn’t have a decent level of muscularity? Body fat levels aside, all strength training builds muscularity. That doesn’t mean that you’ll put it on as symmetrically as you would with a more bodybuilding type program but if you’re lifting weight you’re going to put on muscle, period. To put on muscle there are three things that must occur.
You eat like a 5 year old
The first being that you must be in a positive nitrogen balance which means you must be in a positive caloric intake with more amino acids being assimilated into muscle tissue than amino acids being broken down. This basically means you have to be taking in more calories than you are burning AND you need to have an adequate supply of amino acids to not only replenish those that are being broken down but to assimilate into new muscle tissue. In layman’s terms you have to be eating to gain muscle. This looks a little different for everybody but for the most part it’s pretty simple. You eat multiple meals throughout the day, each with plenty of lean protein, healthy fats, and carbs in adequate amounts to fuel your training and your recovery. What it doesn’t look like is skipping meals or consistently making poor food choices based on your emotional needs. Now, to all the ladies out there who claim they put on muscle too quickly…
You don’t gain muscle easily, you just get fat really quickly
The second key ingredient for muscle growth to occur is the correct hormonal signaling. Hormones control most of your body’s processes and if their isn’t an anabolic hormonal signal telling your body to build it just isn’t going to build. Most people who say they put on muscle really easily have never stood beside a professional male or female bodybuilder and seen what someone who really has great genetics for muscle growth looks like. The hierarchy for muscle growth goes like so:
- Males on anabolic steroids
- Males with good natural testosterone levels
- Females on anabolic steroids
- Females with good natural testosterone level/Males with poor natural testosterone levels (I’m going to say these are a tie)
- Females with poor natural testosterone levels
Like it or not, that’s the truth. If you expect to look like your “MCM” or “WCW” who’s been on drugs, training, and eating right for the last 10 years and expect to do it all natural over a 4 week hypertrophy phase, you’re in for a rude awakening. And if you fall in that category of not having very good natural testosterone levels, you’re running an uphill race. When you’re in a caloric surplus your body will either take those extra calories and convert them into energy/heat, convert them into lean tissue, or convert them into fat tissue. Genetics and hormones are going to determine which of those the body is going to lean towards and if you wonder why you “bulk so easily” every time you decide to add a dozen donuts to your Saturday routine, it’s because your body does an excellent job of converting that jelly filling into your very own visceral jelly filling behind your belly button. The truth is that, no matter what, you’re running some type of long distance race because hypertrophy takes time.
You’ve been training seriously for a couple years now? That’s cute, holler me at a decade
The final piece of the hypertrophy equation is a consistent environmental stress over A LONG PERIOD OF TIME. Hypertrophy occurs over years and is measured in decades. That doesn’t mean you can’t make progress over shorter periods but more so points out the need to view your training stimulus using a wide angle lens instead of the blinders that come with focusing on just the 4-8 week block. Hypertrophy will occur from all iron sport training IF you’re eating correctly AND your hormones don’t suck AND you do it for a long enough period of time. So if you’re looking in the mirror thinking you could use a little more lean tissue on your frame, make sure you have your I’s dotted and your T’s crossed and are willing to go in for the long haul. Add some higher volume, isolation movements to your training, get your nutrition on point (or hire a nutrition coach if you need to) and keep on grinding. Your body will adapt to look the part. Now go on and get too it, Easter is just around the corner and I don’t want to have to tell you the Easter bunny isn’t real…oops!
“CrossFit is dangerous”, “CrossFit is scary”, “You can get hurt in CrossFit”. These are all phrases I hear consistently. Quite honestly, there is little in this life that irritates me more.
During a discussion with my mother in law at Christmas, she made the statement that I would get hemorrhoids from lifting weight and that I’m going to get hurt. My response, “Where did you hear that?” Her response, <silence>. Seriously? No need to worry about my butt hole.
Frankly, I’ve done CrossFit for 8 years now and I’ve sustained only 2 injuries. One wasn’t even related to CrossFit, the other was an injury that stemmed from a lack of taking care of my own mobility.
So where do these CrossFit fears come from? Let’s start with defining fear. “Fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”
“Real or imagined”. Let’s start with “imagined” fear. Imagined fear is something we create in our head. Imagined fear is unfounded fear. It is trumped up in our mind and it has no root. It’s an expectation that something bad is going to happen. From a CrossFit standpoint, I can imagine that the thoughts would go something like this: “CrossFit is so intense and the coaches make you go all out and no one cares about your form. I’m not getting hurt, CrossFit is dangerous.” Now, if you’ve never tried CrossFit, how did you come to that conclusion? Something you saw on the internet? YouTube? Your friend got hurt at CrossFit Somewhere, so you know you’ll get hurt too?
Are there risks associated with exercise? Absolutely. There are risks associated with doing nothing as well, but let’s not go from one extreme to the next.
I did a little research to find out what the most injury prone exercises and sports are, here are the results via good old trusty Google.
As reported by generationiron.com, the top 5 most dangerous exercises are:
1. Bench Press
2. Leg Extensions
3. Lat Pull Downs
If you’re like me, you read that list and thought, “what the hell are they thinking, I bench and do leg extensions all the time and I’ve never been hurt!”. If you go to their website and read why each movement is “dangerous”, you will quickly learn how preposterous the suggestion is that these movements are dangerous. However, I am sure there have been injuries that have occurred in each of those areas and now they are automatically listed as “most dangerous”.
Another Google search turned up “5 Lifts that are Not Worth the Risk” by mensfitness.com.
1. Upright Rows
3. Overhead Squat
4. Dumbbell Fly
5. Banded Good Mornings
Men’s Fitness laid out why each of these are dangerous, including the banded good mornings, “because the weight is loaded directly on your spine even a slight breakdown in form can result in serious injury. Spinal injuries are, in some cases, lethal.” Anyone reading this has most likely performed a banded good morning and other than snapping yourself with the band, you’d have to be a big moron to seriously hurt yourself with them!
I had to Google, “Is CrossFit Dangerous” before I got results that even mentioned CF specifically. My search returned topics such as:
1. My Workout From Hell (The Dangers of CrossFit)
2. The Great Injury Debate, Is CrossFit Dangerous?
3. The Controversy Behind CrossFit
4. CrossFit: The Good, Bad & Ugly
5. Is CrossFit Dangerous? The 5 Shocking Truths You Need to Know
These articles are basically accounts of different people’s personal experience with CrossFit workouts. Now, if I were looking to vilify CrossFit, there are certainly enough examples to support my negative assumptions. I don’t have to actually have any experience with CrossFit, as the internet tells me all I need to know about how bad it is and how dangerous it is. All of the YouTube ‘CrossFit Fails’ alone can help you draw a “it’s dangerous” conclusion.
Case Closed. CrossFit is too dangerous for me.
Wait, no it its not. Know what is dangerous? Bad coaching and people who don’t listen. That’s it. Plain and simple. I will not defend all CrossFit coaches and pretend that all are great. When you have a sport that has grown in such rapid proportion as CrossFit has, you will most definitely have some poor coaching that develops along the way. Quoting from an aforementioned article, “So, on top of having an already overly-strenuous, very high intensity program that sets you up for injury to start with, most people are doing the lifts and other exercises all wrong, and there is no one there to correct them.” It’s blanket statements like these that give CrossFit the label of ‘dangerous’. If in fact this is someone’s actual experience, it is unfortunate for him and it is unfortunate to the sport and unfair to those of us who work hard at being great.
I’m not here to argue the numerous negative comments CrossFit gets. What I am here to do is to educate. Therefore, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention, REAL fears and REAL concerns. Can you get hurt doing CrossFit? Absolutely. There are many exercises that fall under the umbrella of CrossFit. When you have a multitude of exercises to learn, the possibility of injury will increase. The heavier your bar gets when you’re squatting, the higher your probability of injury also. The more you run, the higher your risk of injury. There will always be risks associated with exercise.
While researching for this blog, the majority of the articles I reviewed discussed “intensity” as being the most common cause of injury in a CrossFit workout. What you need to know is that intensity is actually the very last element added when learning to CrossFit. It is imperative that one understands that intensity does not come, nor is it expected, until proper mechanics have been developed and movement patterns have become consistent. A good coach will never push you into intensity before you’re ready. In my experience, most CrossFitters push themselves into that intensity on their own. I have stopped many CrossFitters in mid workout when they turned up the heat on themselves and sacrificed form for speed. As important as it is to have a good coach, it is equally as important for one to be coachable.
So if you are afraid of CrossFit because a friend of a friend said it was dangerous, or you read it on the internet, considering trying it for yourself before dropping it into such harsh judgement.
Not only is good posture important in everyday life, but it also plays a vital role in the golf swing. In a perfect world, we would all exhibit a neutral spine position 24/7. However, due to jobs, stress, injury, and just day-to-day activities, we all lack the perfect posture that our moms tried to instill in us during childhood. Unfortunately, poor posture can translate into our golf game by interfering with the golf setup. These two posture flaws are known as S posture and C posture.
S-Posture is excessive curvature of the lower back, and is the number 1 cause of lower back pain in golfers.
It can occur in golf posture or in everyday standing position. During the TPI screening, we test for S posture during the Pelvic Tilt Test and the Glute Bridge Test. This excessive curvature of the lower back puts high stress on muscles in the lower back and inhibits abdominal muscles. This lack of activation in the core can cause a golfer to have unwanted swing characteristics, such as loss of posture or reverse spine angle. These series of events puts your lower body out of position in the downswing.
In most cases, S posture is caused by Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS). LCS is caused by a series of muscle imbalances that can lead to major injury. The muscle imbalances typically occur with four parts of the body: glutes, hip flexors, abdominals, and lower back. Often we see a client suffering from Lower Crossed Syndrome that has tight hip flexors, a tight lower back, weak glutes and weak abdominals. How do we correct LCS? In order to reverse LCS, we need to loosen the lower back and hip flexors while strengthening the glutes and core.
Unlike S posture, C posture deals with a C shaped curve occurring from the tailbone to the shoulders.
This posture can limit a golfer’s thoracic spine mobility. As a result, it reduces the player’s ability to rotate in the backswing, which is something we never want. This posture can sometimes be fixed by tweaking the golfers setup, but in the majority of cases it is due to a muscle imbalances. The muscle imbalances that occur in C posture are referred to as Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS). Upper Crossed Syndrome is due to tight muscles in the pecs, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and weak muscles in the serratus anterior, neck, and lower trapezius. We can test for this during the Overhead Deep Squat test, Lat Test, and Toe Touch Test.
Hopefully now you can see how important posture is in the golf swing. It is important that you get together with a TPI professional to make sure your golf game is the best that it can be. The majority of the time the only way to address these muscle imbalances causing the bad posture is by addressing these limitations in the gym or with a TPI certified professional.
here is the full Vlog!
Kipping Pull Up – The Final Chapter
You’ve established a superman (arch) and the hollow position and we’ve taken that movement onto the bar. The next step is actually getting the pull up.
Part of the goal when working the Superman/Hollow position is to generate enough force that you create horizontal momentum. At the apex of the hollow position you become weightless.
It is here where your hands may actually release for a nano-second. Instead of allowing them to release, you’ll re-grip and pull yourself to the bar (just below the chin). When you begin working to this point, it would be beneficial to hold that (chin over bar) position for a count of 3 seconds, and then release yourself back down. This will help build the strength you’ll need to string the pull ups together.
To begin syncing your kipping pull ups, when you are at the top in that ‘hold’ position, you will push yourself straight back and away from the bar. Doing so will allow your body to go right back into the hollow position and re-generate the horizontal momentum you need to repeat the movement. If you don’t push away from the bar, you will drop straight down, thus needing to restart the kipping movement.
I suggest practicing 2-3 reps at a time when starting out. Any more than than and you’ll fatigue quickly. Keep in mind, the tighter you maintain your body, the more force you will be able to generate with your hips. More force translates to getting a bit higher on the bar.
Let me also state that I typically require my females to be able to do 2-3 strict pull ups and males should be able to do 3-5 before I teach the kipping pull up. Shoulder stability is a must! Without stability in the shoulders, kipping pull ups can cause injury.
If you would like my help in learning the kipping pull up, please hit me up! I’m always happy to help!
How do you know when to Hire a Strength Coach?
#1: If you doctor warn’s you of health issue’s that can be improved through exercise
#2: You lack energy, motivation, and education about “working out”
#3: You feel like you are making no more progress
#4: You are not sure what the majority of the machine’s do at your facility
#5: You find yourself asking a lot of question’s to a lot of different people
#6: If you hurt (debilitating) after training or a full body movement
Go to college. Get an exercise science/ kinesiology degree. Go to grad school. Get an internship. Suck at your trade for a while, then slowly get better. Make mistakes and learn from them.
If someone asked me to summarize the path to becoming great in the fitness industry, that would be my initial suggestion. As we close out 2016, I have had some time to reflect on the past 12 years of my life in this field. Certainly, all of the aforementioned played a huge part of the technical aspects of my career. However, there were some MASSIVE curve balls that no one had warned me about when I got into it. Perhaps because the industry is so quickly evolving and changing, its hard to figure out the peripheral aspects until the solutions are obsolete. Maybe its because when I was just dipping my feet in, my primary responsibilities were to make sure the gym floors were clean and their was toilet paper in the bathrooms. Not a ton of industry hacks needed there. Regardless, the problems I have ran into are far from unique. Each week, I feel like I am connected with a professional that runs into a major roadblock and is suddenly faced with the requirement to adapt or leave the industry entirely. Below are some skills that I no longer consider optional or bonus skills, but rather are important development points for those thinking about a life in the fitness industry.
Business Acumen: Are you aware of current trends in the fitness industry? Do you know how to handle negative interactions with potential business leads? What are you doing to supplement the training gap that we are currently in right now? Are you even aware when the business “droughts and floods” are? Being able to read your industry and make decisions that further your business is a skill that so few people possess. Often, we allow our own ego to prevent us from adequately handing uncomfortable situations. Have you ever flown off the handle on the internet in response to a person who has never yielded you income? Do you drag messy personal matters into the public eye? Do you refuse to handle “annoying” business situations in an appropriate manner? How do you field complaints? Do you network with other professionals in a positive light? How do you address failing industry relationships? Do you know how to peacefully change a career situation? If any of those questions bring to mind an instance of poor behavior on your own behalf, you are in plenty of company. Hell, I am in your company, as I have absolutely handled a lot of situations wrong. We are always evolving, and my suggestion is to make sure your interactions are focused on positive outcomes. Further, I recommend getting sound console here. I have four people that I regularly reach out to when I am truly stumped on a situation that needs addressed. Three of those people are other gym managers / owners/ trainers that have likely been exactly where I am or can at least help me think a bit more clearly. The final mentor I have actually has no foot in the fitness industry. In fact, I believe the extent of his gym knowledge starts and ends with the treadmill he has in his basement. I go to the final mentor when I need to disconnect from the anomalies that exist in the fitness industry and get a purely business perspective.
Sales Skills: You can be the best technician in the world, but you fail to close a sale, you are just another broke loser. On the flip side of that, we all know that you can be an absolutely terrible technician with amazing sales skills and you will make money. Unless your dive into the fitness industry is purely altruistic, it behooves you to take sales very seriously. For me, this isnt hard: I’m not selling a lemon-mobile that is going to breakdown. I am not selling body wraps that I know are GARBAGE and have no real long term effect. I sell a higher quality of life through fitness. We are all in a position to “sell” one of the most alluring, sought after “products” in the world and still I see people not delivering their skills with the respect it deserves. Sales requires 1.) knowing your product inside and out 2.) hearing your potential clients needs 3.) deciding if you have what they are looking for. If you determine that you CAN lead them down the path of success, the challenge is confidently explaining your value. Up front will be the most difficult, as so far your potential clients have to take your word for it. This is where testimonials are handy, but not necessary. One you acquire a client, you *MUST* demonstrate your value. This is our industry specific “customer service.” There are a number of sales strategies which I will not get into. The important take away here is that you have one and are confident in executing this.
Legal Awareness: This is one of the most underrated parts of probably any industry, but ESPECIALLY the fitness industry. Perhaps its the laid back nature of fitness culture, the growing online presence, or the zero-barrier entry to the field, but the fitness industry is littered with potential legal nightmares. On one end, we have the more obvious legal blah blah blah: membership contracts/rules/regulations/non-compete contracts/exclusivity contracts. All of those are fairly straight forward and understandable. However, there is an entire secondary set of legal awareness that applies to your actions. For example, if you worked for a professional or collegiate sports team and then branched off on your own to train, its likely that you are not allowed to leverage your high-level coaching experience as a marketing tactic. A more common legal liability lies with everyday shit talk. While it seems like publicly dogging your competition may get you ahead, it can actually lead you to serious legal consequence. Before penning your own line of “YOUR TRAINER/GYM/COACH SUCKS, WE ARE BETTER” articles, consider speaking with a legal adviser about the risk of libel/slander/harrassment within your content. Better yet, make your marketing/educational material focus a bit more on the positives of your product as opposed to forcing a comparison of other products. IF you feel that a direct-call out is absolutely necessary, first take a draft of your idea to a legal professional. Before I leave this subject, one thing I cannot stress enough: if you do not have a trusted legal adviser, get one.
Financial Management: There are very few “salary based” training positions, and frankly I cannot imagine why someone would stunt their own earning potential with such an arrangement. While there are many different angles to attack that statement from, let me offer you a snap shot of what your training career likely will resemble: you make a decent to great hourly, have a flexible schedule, and are able to increase or decrease your work hours as you please. This sort of freedom comes at the price of requiring budgeting skills, as a commission based paycheck can vary from season to season. My first bit of advice would be to create a business plan each year that should allow for sustainable income generation. This requires looking at historical trends in training revenue and supplementing the low times with a secondary offering. That supplemental can really vary: maybe you offer a camp, a clinic, or spend the time continuing your education or preparing for future business decisions. Once you have an income that you can live on, I suggest hiring a financial adviser of sorts to help you plan for the future of not only your career, but your families well being. I will be the first to admit, this is something I struggled with for years. Only with the help of those smarter than me did I manage to make a great life our of my good living.
Now, of course there are aspects to a career in training that involve having a clue of what you are doing. I am in NO WAY suggesting that the technical side of this industry doesn’t deserve attention. It absolutely does. However, the need to do so is such a point of discussion that we tend to forget to polish the skill sets that keep up afloat.
Your mind can help you or hurt you
On any given day in any given situation, our mind will set us up for failure or success. A negative mindset in social situations may go something like this: “what if they don’t like me”, “I hate what I’m wearing”, “Why am I here, this is stupid”. Sound familiar? We do it to ourselves all the time. We also do it in the gym. “This WOD looks terrible today, I’m going to suck”, “I can’t do that many double unders, I’m not going”, “I can’t do toes to bar so I’m skipping it”. Fail, fail, fail. Your mind failed you before you ever gave your body a chance to try.
Without a doubt, having the right mindset is a primary factor in determining your confidence and your success in any given area. For this discussion, we’ll keep it specific to CrossFit. It is important to think of your mindset as a muscle. You can train it to be stronger. If you constantly allow negative thoughts and emotions to come into your head and bounce around before or during your training, you’re exercising a negative mindset. If this has been your habit for some time, it will take some time to retrain your thinking, just as it does retraining bad habits we get into in our physical training. Essentially, we have to retrain motor patters. The good news is, it can be done.
St. Jude Half Marathon
Last weekend I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon. I didn’t really train for it and was only partially prepared. However, since I’ve ran one before I knew what it was going to take mentally for me to get it done. I had my nutrition lined out perfectly, I had the right shoes, the right clothing, my music set, the right friends encouraging me and my overall fitness as a foundation. All of these things were going to be the key to me being successful. During the St. Jude race, it takes 2-3 miles for the pack to thin out a little before you can really take stride. Since there’s so much going on, I decided to keep my music off for awhile. I know a lot of people enjoy running without music. They take in the scenery, take time to mentally reflect, breathe, and whatever else they do. I’m not that way. I like my tunes in my ears so I don’t have to hear my own thoughts and heavy breathing! After about 3 miles I decided to plug in and get into my zone. Well, guess what, I couldn’t connect my bluetooth! I tried not to panic but all I could think of was, “Oh my God! I’ve got to listen to this shit going on between my ears another 10 miles!!” Then I thought, no, no negative self talk. “But your feet are going to get tired.” Not listening. “You didn’t train.” “You suck.” “You’re slow.” Not listening, “I’m strong.” “My training is good.” “My nutrition is great.” “You might die.” NO. “I’m awesome and I’m going to smash last years time.”
Sound like a familiar discussion between your ears?
Here’s an excerpt from the book, The Invicutus Mindset:
“It’s easy to feel invincible, strong and courageous before you confront an obstacle. But true mental fortitude is revealed during the worst of the ordeal, when it appears that nothing is going your way and that there is no end in sight. An individual’s outlook and resilience during the worst of times is the difference between those who succeed and those who succumb.”
Training your mindset muscles
So how does one train the right mindset? How do you develop your inner drive, the ability to stay positive and push on? The key lies deep within each and every person, but before we can answer the how, you need to answer the why. Why is strengthening your mindset necessary?
For the next few miles of my race, I only had my thoughts inside my head. I made up my mind that no matter what, there would be no negative self talk. I knew I couldn’t finish where I wanted to if I allowed it to seep in. So I thought about my training. I thought about how strong I’ve been feeling lately. I thought about my training partners and how they were helping me (probably way more than they realize). I remembered that I was running with 20 pounds less weight than last year and that put a little pep in my step. I thought about a 21 year old cancer patient and friend of my daughter. He’s literally fighting for his life and losing his battle. “Surely you can run for him, Angie.” and so I did.
What is important to you?
What are your goals? What will it take for you to reach your goals? What matters to you? When you figure that out you’ll know exactly how to develop the proper mindset to support those goals. No goals were ever achieved from a weak mindset. Strengthening your mental toughness inside the gym will create an indestructible mindset in all facets of your life.
As it turns out, I eventually got my music connected and I finished the half marathon with a 30 minute PR.
I will spare you the long intro, but in short, this is a series of word sights, sounds, and humans that keep my day at NBS Fitness alive and well.
- I have started training at 5:30am. Usually, I am in plenty of company, but last week I showed up and only had a handful of other people in the gym with me. As I got to training, Elyse noticed a PILE OF CORN on the ground.
- In the previous facility, the bodybuilding crew would meet and go over posing each week. As the facility wasn’t huge, we were always in the company of other lifters who didn’t seem to mind. However, we did get PLENTY of unsolicited posing advice mixed in the tales of others former greatness. Particularly, we had two national level bodybuilders going through their posing when the whole thing was interrupted by a guy who vented his frustrations about being “too lean” and “too dry” for the local show he competed in. For the record, I have yet to hear any judge at any level place a bodybuilder low for being “too lean.” Overdieted/stringy/small: yes. Too lean? Negative.
- Also in the previous facility, we did not have a fenced in strongman area. While we were sure to lock up anything that could be swiped for scrap metal, we didn’t worry much about locking up the 200+ atlas stones. Hell, if you could steal if, you deserve it. To our knowledge, no one had ever attempted to steal one…until last winter. During a pretty warm day, I opened the garage door to do some log pressing. I sat down and was watching a passerby who didn’t see me. Sure enough, he spotted the stone and started looking around to see if anyone could see him. Somehow he missed me staring right at him and attempted to steal a 275ish atlas stone. I let him struggle with it for about 3 minutes before telling him to knock it off. He offered no explanation as he ran away.
- During a gym tour, a guy who went on to be a member presented me with cheesecake in order to bargain his way out of an enrollment fee. To avoid getting bombarded with cheesecake, I will spare you the outcome.
- I explained to a grown, 28 year old man what a debit card was and ran his very first debit transaction. The whole idea of banks giving you plastic cards and keeping your cash was somehow foreign to this guy.
I may be slightly biased in my opinion on this subject but 17 years of training and 10 years in the fitness industry has influenced my ideas on what constitutes a solid gym from a gym that sucks. I am sure there are more than just five ways to know if your gym sucks but these five are definitely some of the top ones. So without further ado, here are 5 ways to know if your gym sucks.
Your Gym Has a Poor Cardio To Strength Equipment Ratio
Cardiovascular health is important and cardio machines provide a simple, user friendly way to exercise that doesn’t require much instruction. This easy learning curve combined with the false belief that cardio is the best way to lose fat has led many gyms to fill their spaces with endless rows of cardio machines and in the process, severely limit the amount of strength equipment they have. It’s not at all uncommon to find gyms with fifty plus pieces of cardio and only one or two squat racks. At NBS Fitness we have 6 cardio machines and 10 places to squat. It’s important you gym has an appropriate ratio of cardio to strength equipment. If there is never any wait on a treadmill but the one squat rack is always taken up but some knucklehead doing cheat curls, your gym sucks.
Your Gym Has Hex Plates
The reason hex plates were invented was to prevent lifters from deadlifting. I’m not sure if that’s actually true or not but its the only reason I can think of. While rubber covered hex plates are cool looking, they make deadlifting properly a pain in the ass. Because they can’t roll, the lifter get pushed into less than ideal position trying to make a lift. Even worse is if a lifter is going for multiple reps the plates will cause the bar to shift and swing. Standard metal plates are the best plates for train
ing, period. If your gym has hex plates it’s because they want you to hurt yourself while deadlifting and that means they suck.
Your Gym Plays Terrible Music
Everyone has their own music preference but there are certain genres of music that lend themselves to being better for lifting than others. At a previous gym I worked at, they were playing the worlds worst playlist with as many soft songs as you could possible play. Pretty much every member who was in the free weight section at the time complained about it. Trying to fix the issue, I changed the music to a Metallica playlist on Pandora with Metallica, AC/DC, Motorhead, etc. Well, one member really didn’t like my choice in music and proceded to jump up and scream “DEVIL MUSIC” while covering her ears and running out of the gym. This really upset my supervisors who quickly changed the music back and got on to me. My theory was that if 30 members like the music and those are the members who are coming into the gym every day and training hard, then why do we really care if it upsets the crazy lady who’s riding the recumbent bike and watching TV. At NBS, we play hard rock, metal, and rap. If you don’t like it, just put your headphones on. But we don’t want to dull the mood forthe serious lifters by catering to the people who aren’t interested in getting a little crazy in the weight room. If your gym plays boring slow music, your gym sucks.
Your Gym Doesn’t Allow Chalk
The purpose of chalk is to increase the friction between a lifter’s skin and whatever implement they are training with. This increase of friction allows for increased performance and reduction of injury as a lifter is less likely to tear their skin and/or lose their grip. The downside is chalk makes a mess. Because of this many gyms have banned the use of chalk altogether. Some grumpy members complained about chalk being left on a bar or on the floor or were too scared to join because the chalk intimidated them. As a gym owner, I understand that it is a pain in the ass to clean up chalk. The unfortunate truth is that some members are special (in a short bus kind of way) and haven’t realizedthe proper chalk etiquette. Sometimes they think they are Lebron James doing a pregame chalk explosion or they think covering the entire bench in chalk is the trick to keeping them from slipping instead of just putting their shirt on. Either way, some education goes a long way towards teaching the dumb dumbs on how to properly use chalk without making an unnecessary mess. And in the end, chalk helps your members lift bigger weights and do it in a safer manner, win win. If your gym is anti chalk, your gyms sucks.
Your Gym Separates Experienced Lifters From Beginners
The other day I watched a video of a cardio class with people swinging wooden swords around to hip hop beats. While I can appreciate the idea of something getting people up and moving, there has been a slow steady lie spreading through the fitness industry. That lie is that making strides in your health, fitness, and physique is always fun. Sometimes it can be fun but the truth is that many times it is a down right kick in the ass. Much like saving money, the reason you continue to do it isn’t that it is fun, it’s because you know it’s what you need to do to get the outcome that you want. If that isn’t an analogy for life, I don’t know what is. Many times, gyms try to lure in people with the idea of “fun” fitness. You get to dance around and listen to hip hop music or lifting on the purple equipment protected from experienced lifter’s grunts by an alarm. I’m not saying I’m anti cardio classes, however, if we’re going to make the connection between what most people want from training (improved health, improved performance, improved physique) versus what they actually get from training, rarely do they match up. This is because they are usually dissuaded from making themselves uncomfortable by putting themselves in a place of little experience. If you want to make changes, you have to get uncomfortable and instead of separating beginners from those with experience, gyms should be making it easier for beginners to connect with those lifters with more experience so they can gain experience and become more comfortable in the process. If your gym separates experienced lifters from beginners, your gym sucks.
Well there you have it. How did you gym stack up?
I figured this is a somewhat appropriate time of the year to pick this movie, and it just so happens that I watched it yesterday for the first time in a while. The movie I am referring to is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I know, wait. Isn’t that a kids movie? Maybe, I was a kid when I first saw it, but I’ve loved it ever since. I can’t really think of any movies that Tim Burton has had a hand in that I haven’t enjoyed. I like the music in this movie, I like the animation, I like the characters, and I like the story. Plus, you can really watch it during Halloween, or Christmas because it’s fitting for both. I find it so hard to believe that they’re still people that have not seen this movie, but I’m sure there may be a couple reading this that haven’t. A couple of years ago I came across an album titled Nightmare Revisited. It has artist like Korn, Marilyn Mansion, and Amy Lee covering songs from the film. Iv’e also recently discovered that there is now a Nightmare Before Christmas play. Although I am not aware of any times, or dates, or cities for the play. The film is now over 20 years old, which is hard to believe, but is just as good as the day it came out. If you’re looking for a movie to watch over the holidays that the whole family can enjoy, then I would suggest giving this one a watch.
Here are a couple of the covers from the album Nightmare Revisited.