As I’m sure most of you who are reading this know, I am a bodybuilder. Why? I still compete because competition is all I’ve ever really known. I started playing football when I was 7 and played until I was 17. I wrestled for 7 years, including some collegiate time. I played Men’s Division I Rugby (highest in the US) for three years while I was in chiropractic school, and I’ve competed in various bench press or powerlifting meets since high school. I started lifting weights in general at probably 14 years old, and I have been bodybuilding since 2004. I love competition, and it would drive me crazy not to have a goal. Secondly, there could be worse things to do for competition than work to increase strength, muscle size and decrease fat. (I don’t think competitive eating is really a health thing!)
Recently, a new gym opened up in Stow, Ohio called Planet Fitness. (I know it’s a chain, but it really wasn’t around here much.)
My fiancé, Courtney, decided to head there with her friend for a few workouts. I was aware that the chain catered to more of the “fitness” crowd rather than the bodybuilding crowd, which is totally fine. However, when I found out the level of degrading that this gym regarding bodybuilders, it pretty much blew my mind. I love the signs that reference someone wearing bodybuilding tank tops, dropping weights and a gallon jug of water, and then calls them a “lunk”. They even have an alarm that goes off if a weight happens to drop to the floor. Apparently, this thing is pretty sensitive, as Courtney was dropping 15 pound weights about 4 inches from the floor and set it off. I totally get that a gym would want to protect their investment and ask people to not drop the weights. I even could laugh off the alarm. But guess what? I drink from a gallon jug. I don’t like bodybuilding tank tops, but I will wear an occasional sleeveless shirt to help see proper form and to know I’m working what specific muscle I want. As for judging? I don’t judge anyone at my “Bodybulding Gym”, (Buckeye Gym in Tallmadge, Ohio.) I have not seen one person judge someone else for their fitness goals there. We have a majority of people who either compete, or who could compete in bodybuilding, fitness or figure events. There are also several people who have no desire to ever step on a stage or have 18 inch arms. But I promise, a heck of a lot of them are drinking from a gallon jug of water, and even the girls will often wear tank tops.
My point is that everyone needs to start somewhere, and the fact that someone is in the gym is a great start. Congratulations to him or her, and I would never want that person to stop going because they feel out of place where they’re working out. Now I know I was just complaining about poor form in the gym and the “January” crowd, but that was a point about poor health habits from a physician standpoint. I’m quite happy when someone is making the honest attempt and I encourage my patients to do this daily (and stick with it). Conversely, I don’t think it’s right for someone or a group of people to judge others because they have dedicated a significant amount of time and energy into improving their health and physique. Planet Fitness, if you are seriously a “No Judgement” gym, I think you should probably rethink your comments and your marketing. You can make people feel comfortable without putting others down. If your that worried about the bodybuilding crowd, don’t have your dumbbells go up past 50 pounds and limit the stacks on the machines. I promise, we won’t come.
– Dr. Craig