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?