Several days ago, while walking through a big gym in Spokane, WA. I was struck by what was going on in the free weight workout areas. Let me rephrase this last statement; I was struck by what was not going on….
This gym is big enough to get a walking workout just by going from machine to machine. There were what looked to be ten thousand bikes, elliptical trainers, treadmills, stair steppers…you name it and they were there.
There so many machines in this place that you would be an old person if you tried one out each day. These things did everything except heat up a meal and serve it to you with the word “enjoy” after you got it. Even then, there were people using them wrong.
How in the world can someone screw up using a machine? You sit on it and it does the work for you. Nevertheless, several people were managing the impossible with a variety of cheating methods. They had figured out ways to circumvent the intent of the apparatus by doing short range of motion repetitions or contorting their bodies to make the effort, what little there was, easier.
Some of these weird adaptations were dangerous to the lower back with the hyper extensions during the exercise.
Before completely jumping off the deep end with these machine comments, let’s get back to the free weight area. It was about the size of a four-car garage, equipped with a multitude of different benches and a nice selection of dumbbells. On the perimeter were more of the ever present machines, where people could once again cheat their way to making an exercise easy.
The benches were in fairly constant use with, surprise, surprise, men doing bench presses. Not the normal bench presses, but some sort of a half-assed part way down, part way back up with several spotters lifting the weight on each repetition.
Perhaps I missed learning this exercise a long time ago. Maybe it is some type of team building movement where everyone feels the need to help with the rep. I have never seen this in any of the competitions so am uncertain about its value.
The biggest thing I saw in this gym were the three, yupp, you read it right, three power racks. And it was rare during the seven hours I was observing that anyone was using them FOR ANYTHING! And when someone did get in one to squat, (with the exception of one young man who squatted deep to the floor with every one of his squats), they were doing high ones. These weren’t even deep enough to sit on a toilet seat.
I attribute this to too many inexperienced trainers with even less common sense telling their trainees not to go lower than ninety degrees because blah blah blah. If you are going to squat, at least get down low enough to sit on a kitchen chair. And put some dammed weight on the bar.
My impressions of this gym is that it is more than likely making money but the people in it are being shortchanged in the process of their trying to get stronger and more physically fit.
Life isn’t easy and exercise isn’t meant to be easy either. If you expect to get good results from your efforts then get off the machines, get under the bar and do the exercises right with full range of motion on each repetition without having your friends lift the weight each time.