“To tell you the truth, you girls are scaring me to death.” This is the response I got today when I asked the dude behind the counter at our local gym, to spot me for a barbell back squat. Say what? Yes, I suppose it would be much more lady like for us to bandy about with little 2 pound dumbells and ankle weights, all while sticking to the elliptical, treadmill, and nautilus machines like good little girls should.
Lifting weights and training is something that I absolutely love to do. I’ve been a gym rat since I was in my twenties. I studied this in college, I am not a neophyte with regard to all things gym related. Today, when faced with “Mr. Scaredy Pants,” I felt like I stepped back into the 1950’s or ventured into some para-military organization where women are to be coddled, resented and not encouraged. It shocked me when I received negative feedback about my efforts, and I have to admit to having just a little bit of an emotional meltdown. I was trying to push my envelope, and I got slapped down… and it made my head steam. What was it I was just saying about checking my ego at the door? It is one thing to be corrected by a coach who is supporting me to be my best; it is quite another thing to be chastised by somebody who dishes bad advice and clearly does not want to see a lady pushing heavy weight. The first really does put my ego in check, but the second, well it just flat out makes me mad.
I had the bar loaded up with 135 pounds. As I was preparing to squat, instead of standing ready to help should I fail, the “dude” was taking the weight off the bar. I stopped and said, “dude, don’t take the weight.” I tried to squat again… and yet again, said dude is NOT SPOTTING me, he is taking the freaking weight. Really? WTF, dude, can you just spot me? “I don’t want you to touch me or the weight unless I ask you to”. He says to me, “stare at the ceiling” you won’t do this lift right unless you are staring at the ceiling. Again… WTF? This is contrary to what I have been taught. At this point, I have to just smile, nod, pump out a few reps and get away from “front desk dude”.
If you have questions about where to look during a squat, just perform a quick google search regarding squatting and staring at the ceiling, and this pretty much makes my point: Looking at the ceiling during a squat is a DON’T!
“Where You Should NOT Look During Squats. NOT at The Ceiling. Hyper-extending your cervical spine increases risks of spinal discs injuries. It also shifts the weight to your heels which can make you lose balance, and it will make you lose hip power.” (Stronglifts.com)
Not only is this guy not spotting me correctly, but he is giving me bad technical advice.
From another website:
Doug Berninger is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), holding a Master’s degree in Kinesiology from Bowling Green State University. In an article titled, “5 Misconceptions in the Squat” Doug goes on to say:
“Squatting Misconception 5 – Look to the Ceiling When You Squat
I’ll make this quick. Think about sitting in a chair and tilting your head to the ceiling as hard as possible. Hurt a little? Exactly! Why would you do that with a load on your back? Yes, you do want to have your eyes up because the body follow the eyes, but your head position can, and should, remain relatively neutral. This is more spine-friendly, while still allowing your posture to remain intact.”
Back to the gym…
It is really difficult for me to focus on executing the correct form when “front desk dude’s” hands and arms are in really bizarre places. All I can do is watch the “wonky” way he is not spotting me. Seriously dude, slap me across the face if I ever have a relapse in judgement and decide to ask you for a spot.
I’m not entirely sure why my emotional response to this lack of support was so strong , but perhaps it is because training is one of the few things that I have in my life that is mine; that I love; and that makes me feel alive. I have been making progress in a forward direction and it feels great. I am excited to go to the gym and push my limits. I am excited to see where I can go. So, perhaps with that in mind, it is easier to understand my less than glowing feeling toward some misogynistic neanderthal who is trying to send me back to aerobics class. It absolutely rubbed me hard in the wrong way.
I’ve been training at the Crossfit Box in a nearby town, and I was having a bit of a dilemma deciding just how often I should make the trek to the box, and how often should I be satisfied to train at the gym that is just a few blocks from my house. Judging from the response we got this morning at my local gym, it seems that more often than I initially imagined, I will be making the 45 minute trek to the Crossfit Box .
Emotions once again in check, I must remember that this is life. We all experience ups and downs. We all experience joy and sadness, gain and loss, failure and success. Having embarrassed myself with the intensity of my emotions this morning, I did “suck it up”. I apologized to those in the nearby vicinity and explained that I was also experiencing a loss in my personal life, and that my emotions were out of line for the situation. I left the gym in tears this morning, and I have to admit to feeling very ridiculous and not strong.
Remember this thing: Just because somebody is sitting behind the counter at the gym does not necessarily mean that they can dish out good advice on anything. If something seems “out there”, please check for accuracy. It is always shocking to me that in a business where clients can vote for you or against you with their dollar, that said business will not do everything in its power to encourage your dollar to stay with them. So, while I don’t enjoy driving an extra hour and a half to and from my workouts, the support and encouragement that I receive while at the gym with the less desirable location, will in the end, be getting my vote and my dollars.
Given the choice, would you go to a place where you were criticized, shamed, and discouraged? Or would you go to a place where you were lifted up, challenged and encouraged to go further, dig deeper, and get stronger? Yep, me too. So, ladies, stand up with me and dare to scare the poor chauvinists in the gym. Maybe we don’t know squat, but I do know where I will get the most value for my dollar.