At my gym, OK, there's only one really good place to do pullups. If someone is occupying the pullup area, that means nobody else is doing pullups at that particular time. That means that, if you are the person in the pullup area, you have a responsibility. A responsibility to do pullups. A responsibility to not just stand there. So tell me, dude in the pullup area: Why are you just standing there?
There he was, this guy, right beneath the pullup bar, just standing there. He wasn't warming up. He wasn't cooling down. He wasn't preparing or getting pumped or just finishing up. He was just standing there, gazing out into space. He was, for no particular reason, blocking everyone else in the gym from doing any pullups, so that he, Mr. Standy Man, could stand not just anywhere, but in a highly desirable area that could be put to better use by literally any person willing to do a single pullup. Why didn't Standy "Two Legs" McHeadInTheClouds do his standing in one of the many areas of the gymnasium not earmarked for pullup use—or, better yet, on a street corner, like the common harlot that he is? Scientists are still unable to say for sure. What we do know is that the problem is not confined to this one dude in my gym who wasn't even wearing headphones and getting lost in the music. (I know you were thinking maybe he was. No, he wasn't.)
Lest you imagine that this "Uselessly Standing Somewhere and Blocking Me From Doing Shit" problem is confined to the pullup area in my gym, it isn't. Other places in my gym that have been afflicted by Dudes Just Standing There For No Reason include the squat area, the dumbbell area, the bench press area, and even The Area by the Wall Where I Left My Sweatshirt and Now It's Been Surrounded by the Goon Convention of Dudes Who Just Wanna Stand Around Yakking About Who Knows What and Now I Have to Awkwardly Tell Them to Move If I Want to Get to My Sweatshirt. Well my friends, my sweatshirt didn't sign up for the goon convention. That's for sure. And neither did the muscles nor the cardiovascular systems of all the fine folks out there who would like to use these areas of the gym for their intended purposes, unencumbered by your motionless body, which prevents them from doing so. Sounds like we have a problem.
At this point you're probably saying to yourself, "Damn that story was just as incredibly captivating as every story is that some guy tells about his gym, Hamilton, but I don't go to your gym. What about me?" Well, today's your lucky day, Brad (the name I imagine you have thanks in no small part to your "snarky" attitude). Besides my own personal gym, the Dudes Standing There Doing Nothing problem also occurs in the following locations: every gym. And now your eyes are opening.
Besides the fact that you need to get the fuck out of the way so I can use that, Just Standing There comes with an obvious detriment to you personally: If you're just standing there, you are not working out. Therefore, why don't you just go the fuck home? Look, I'm not one of these stopwatch-wielding spandex clad personal trainers named "Brad" wearing a T-shirt that says "TRAINER" on the back and telling you that you can rest only 15 seconds between sets because today we're keeping you in the cardio-fat-burning-interval-high-intensity zone, OK? I'm not one of those guys also probably named "Brad" who go on internet fitness sites and write articles with titles like "OMG It Is So Annoying When People Look at Their Cell Phones at the Gym." I'm not even "into" that. (I had a text, OK? Is that OK with you, Bradley?) I'm talking about a very specific sort of layabout who is just standing there without a good reason. Good reasons for occupying an area of the gym that is in high demand while just standing there are as follows:
1. You are just about to begin a workout.
2. You are actually working out. You are in the middle of a workout. You are resting for a brief period of time in order to recover enough to continue your workout. Your standing and doing nothing is serving the legitimate physical purpose of muscle recovery. Please—carry on.
3. You are psyching yourself up to do some real crazy shit in just a minute here.
4. You are Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D, the author of the book Super Squats. You do what you want.
If you ever find yourself occupying a popular area of the gym while not actually engaged in physical movement, stop for a moment and consider this list carefully. Which category do you fall into? If your answer is "none," you need to move your feet forward, one after the other, until your body has been propelled to an area of the gym that is not right where I'm trying to do pullups. Likewise, if I feel the need to just stand around for a few minutes—hey, cool, it's not a problem, man, because you will notice that I am standing off to the side somewhere so that I'm not "that guy" (Brad) who decides to come to the gym and then have a chatty conversation with my pal (Erskine) while leaning on the dumbbell rack and my hand is literally on the dumbbell that somebody (Hamilton) wants to use right then if you can believe it. As if the dumbbell was the subject of the movie Lean on Me.
Don't just stand there, Brad. Do some fucking work. Don't make me write an unpopular internet fitness column about you.
This is an occasional column about fitness, and how you're doing it wrong. Image by Jim Cooke.