One Minor Complaint

I like my gym, I do. I am impressed with what they’ve done to improve the place, and the addition of the new power racks is completely unexpected and really, over the top. We now have 5 Hammer Strength power racks/cages and 2 squat racks. I no longer fret en route to the gym that I may find nowhere to squat. There is now actually a dearth of barbells, as they haven’t added any to fill all the new spots where people like to use barbells. Yesterday, for example, both incline benches were sans barbells and I had to go on walkabout looking for one.

The gym is enormous. While I only frequent one tiny corner, the place is a behemoth. There is a massive amount of equipment on the floor and one day, I may just do a circuit and try to use every piece. But, I digress. Until very recently, the gym had signs up everywhere advising members that gym bags were not allowed on the gym floor (nor were colored beverages oddly enough) and I was once personally scolded for violating this seemingly unnecessary and considerably inconvenient house rule. The signs seem to have disappeared, so I may attempt to bring a bag of goodies with me again at some point, rather than hang my belt around my neck and have my knee and elbow sleeves under my arms when I come in the front door. This, however, is still not my minor complaint.

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The gym floor is essentially divided into two sections–a free weight area and the sprawling machine littered area–by a green astroturf looking strip upon which people sprint and do walking lunges. At one end of this green runway is a thick piece of rubber mat upon which rests a barbell, typically loaded with the only bumper plates in the gym. I’ve taken this spot to be designed for deadlifting or perhaps cleans and the like, so that’s where I set up shop when I’m going to pull. Today was my heavy deadlift day so after warming up, I arrived and took up residence at the rubber mat. I brought my chalk in with me, which I haven’t done in quite a while as I didn’t want to get scolded for making a mess, but the hook grip has been giving me grief once I get to the 300 lb area and I wanted to see if chalk would help, because I refuse to pull mixed grip again after severing the top part of my arm from the bottom part last year.

First the good news: I pulled very successfully, working up to a 339 double, which is a PR for me using a double-overhand hook grip. The chalk helped quite a bit. I’m still well off from my best deadlifts pre-surgery, but I’m happy with the progress considering I stopped deadlifting altogether for quite some time. Now we’ve reached the matter at hand. The deadlift area, or at least the spot I’ve deemed the deadlift area, is adjacent to one end of the green mile, and near a large jungle-gym looking apparatus where the gym staff conduct group training sessions, typically with women and often with older men. Around this apparatus the trainers have their pupils do things like throw a beach ball up against the wall, do something with a large rope that resembles battling an anaconda, sprint along the astroturf, do bodyweight movements on the floor and today, stand in a line as if getting ready to play a game of Telephone and pass beach balls back and forth to each other. Between sets of deadlifts, I would have to stay basically stationary with blinders on to avoid seeing all of this activity behind me, but I can still sense it. I remind you, the gym is the size of a city block. At one point, a man who may have been approaching his 70’s, apparently doing some type of rehab work with a trainer, was doing something that looked like attempting flight with his arms about 30″ from where I stood, breathing heavily and covered in chalk.

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My complaint then, to finally get to it, is for the gym staff to find a more suitable place for people to deadlift. A place conducive to the primal aggression necessary to look at some heavy shit that is perfectly happy sitting on the floor, and do battle with gravity until you are standing tall in defiance of the laws of nature for just a brief moment in time. A place where one is not surrounded by the geriatric, the infirmed and the group fitness posses.

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