Friday, April 21, 2017

Don't Be a Bro

By now, I hope I've persuaded you to get into the gym and start lifting some weights.

But one thing that keeps a lot of people from starting a strength-training regimen is intimidation. People don't think they're capable. They're afraid of doing something wrong and getting injured. They don't know what exercises to do. And worst of all, they're afraid of encroaching on Bro Territory.

Bros are loud. They walk around the gym like they own the place. They curse and yell. They make fun of the other Bros. Basically, they turn the weightlifting area into their own domain. And that keeps a lot of people from getting the most out of their gym memberships, because they won't go lift.

And fellas, breaking news: I'm mainly talking about women.

No Regular Guy I know would want to scare anyone out of the gym. Being a Regular Guy is all about being your best you, and helping other people do the same. So don't do this stuff. Don't be a Bro.

courtesy Jay's Brick Blog (

Don't Drop Your Weights
OK, every once in a while you bite off a little more than you can chew, and you need to let the bar drop so you don't get hurt. But if you're doing it on every set, you're intimidating people. Your eccentric phase is supposed to be under control anyway, so just don't do it.

Don't Grunt Like an Animal
A little bit of grunting has been shown to be helpful to get you through a tough set. So if you need to let a little something out on the last couple of reps, that's fine. But if you're loudly grunting through every lift, you sound aggressive to other people. That's not you, is it?

Don't Pace Around
I get it: Between sets, you need to get up and keep loose. Fine. But don't pace the whole area like a stalker. Stay right around your apparatus. You're not on guard patrol.

Don't Curse
Let's face it: The testosterone is flying at the gym. But not everyone appreciates your rated-R sense of humor. It makes you sound unintelligent -- like the kind of guy who'd rather settle things with his fists. And even in 2017, many people find F-bombs offensive. Keep the language to yourself.

Don't Wear Ridiculous Clothes
Gymwear is pretty simple: shorts, a T-shirt, socks and gym shoes. Tank tops are OK if you find them more comfortable. The idea is that what you wear should be functional. I often see guys wearing obnoxious T-shirts -- with profanities, polarizing political statements or just ridiculous fitspo phrases. Those things are not welcoming. Leave them in the drawer.

Don't Shout Across the Room
We get it -- you're pumped. But what you think is just raw enthusiasm can easily come off as grandstanding and taunting. A little fist pump when you hit a big lift is great. Even a high five with your spotter. But keep the hooting and hollering to yourself.

Don't Sing Along With Your Headphones
The reason you're wearing headphones is that you can listen to the music you like and block out the other stuff. Don't assume that everyone likes your music, and even if they did, you probably aren't that good of a singer.

Don't Just Walk Away From the Bench
Dude, you're gross. Sorry, but it's true. So am I. Go get a wipe or the spray bottle and wipe your sweat off. Maybe the other Bros don't care, but the average Joe or Jane does.

Don't Check Yourself Out in the Mirror
The mirrors are there so you can keep an eye on your form, not for you to admire yourself. People find it offputting, narcissistic and intimidating when you're flexing in the lifting area.

Don't Hog Machines
You're not going to make many friends guarding multiple pieces of apparatus like a dog guards its bone. It's just one more reason for people to stay away from the weightlifting area. Plan your workouts more carefully, or if you really need to do a circuit, go early or late when the gym isn't crowded.

Don't Ignore Safety
OK, this one probably doesn't affect other people as much as it can affect you. Use collars. Get a spotter if you need one. Nobody notices you if you do things right. Everyone notices if you have a preventable accident. You may think you have it no sweat, but what happens if you sneeze, tough guy?

Don't Make It Into a Club -- Or a Frat
If you go to the gym frequently enough, you'll probably start recognizing some of the same faces. And you might even have friends who go to your gym. By all means, be sociable. But don't turn it into a private club. Don't you hate when you go to a party and everyone else is friends? People hate that at the gym, too -- and if you do it in the weightlifting area, you're scaring them off.

Don't Get in People's Way
If your gym has an open floor area for stuff like walking lunges, monster walks, sled pushes and the like, don't just traipse across it willy-nilly. Lots of effective strength training happens in places other than under a barbell. You wouldn't like it if someone crossed right in front of you during a lift; don't do that to other people.

I think the message the Bros send out is that they are more important than the rest of us because they're the serious, and we're just in the way. I suspect that a small percentage of them actually believe this, and I'm sure I'll never get through to them. But most lifters feel a strong sense of community, and really they want to welcome more people into that community. Problem is, they don't realize how intimidating their behavior makes them look. And instead of being welcoming, they're scaring people away.

You don't have to be a Bro to be a hardcore fitness buff. So don't be a Bro.

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