Listen to the Episode
What’s your gym training environment like? Is it serving you? What can you do to make it better, or to make the most of it? This episode dug into making the most of your gym training environment, whether you’re training at a huge commercial gym, a local small business, or even at home. Mike also discussed his dissertation research on metonymy, a figure of rhetoric, and its use in novels to figure things like networks and ecology.
Your Gym Training Environment
- Scott began by discussing an email he received comparing the equipment in Pumping Iron to your modern gym machines.
- Don’t go too far though: you can’t build a great physique with… a jug of water. That’s limiting. Often this is sold for marketing reasons. Don’t ask “what can I get away with?” Ask “What are the really successful folks using?” They’re using a fairly well-stocked gym, whether that’s at home, a giant commercial gym, or whatever.
- A lot of what made the machines so “effective” in Pumping Iron was down to the trainees; they knew how to get the most out of them. And, back in those days, they would just flat-out modify them, or bring in a new version.
- Sometimes modern gym machines are perfectly good… but the little diagram is actually very poor. Don’t assume they’re always 100% bang on in terms of getting the most of the exercise, the range of motion, the mind-muscle connection.
- Scott’s favourite gym was the “gym” at Muscle Camp, in 1989. Here’s why: (1) it was basically just a giant gym floor with all the new, practically untouched machines from the big companies (Nautilus, Hammer, etc.) (2) Scott got keys and was able to come in at 5 a.m. before anyone else had come in, and (3) the other people there? Guys like Bill Pearl, or celebrities who wanted to just train without being bothered.
- Scott’s other favourite gym was the Chelsea Piers gym in New York.
- Scott really like World’s Gym over Gold’s Gym. Gold’s became kind of a party atmosphere later on, whereas World’s you were there to work, and Joe Gold (who, yes, was at World’s Gym by this point) didn’t put up with anything he didn’t like.
- Kevin’s favourite gym is his own! It’s extremely well-stocked because he also trains clients in there.
- Some gyms can be a bit of a spa, but the hardcore ones can be kind of unpleasant as well, with ridiculous macho posturing everywhere you go.
- Gyms attract the kind of clientele they supply themselves for: have a few stability balls and rooms for Bootcamps, you’ll get one kind of client, have ten squat racks and dumbbells going up to 150 lbs., and you’ll attract another.
- Some of the big gyms in larger cities have it all, and this means they get all sorts of clientele, and therefore there’s a big difference in the atmosphere of the gym depending on what time you’re there. Kevin’s seen gyms where it’s like going to two different gyms, depending on time of day.
- Mike pointed out that a new feature on Google maps will actually let you see what time of day a local business is busiest. It’s not always what you might expect, and if you can in any way plan around that, it might be useful.
- Speaking of attitude and posturing: Scott recalls visiting a popular gym where a bunch of guys were posturing and such, very loudly, meanwhile Kevin — a world champion — calmly came in, did his thing, and left. But no one paid attention. They were paying attention to the guys making the most noise.
- A home gym needs various sets of dumbbells, or quick adjusting dumbbells like Power Blocks or Bowflex ones.
- Kevin’s home gym has three squat racks. Jealous much?
- You can see Kevin’s home gym on his YouTube Channel.
- In terms of scheduling, you do what you can, and you make do with what you can’t. Manipulate your circumstances where possible, and beyond that: just do it.
If you’re doing circuits in a busy gym, here are a few things you can do:
- Flat-out tell people beforehand! (Politely.)
- Leave a towel (or something) on a bench or piece of equipment you’re still using. In some gyms with doesn’t work.
- Drag a bench or something over to a squat rack and make that your “home base” or station. People will get the idea.
If you’re working out at home / setting up a home gym…
- Don’t do it in an area that’s for other things, or where you can be distracted, or be distracted by others (kids, a dog, etc.)
- You don’t need much space, but there is a bare minimum, and it’s important that your training environment is for training.
- Bare minimums? Depends on the trainee. Generally, though: quick adjusting dumbbells, adjustable bench, cables and cable attachments, medicine balls in multiple weights, stability balls. A good power rack with olympic weights can be a huge asset, as can a functional trainer. Keep in mind, you do get what you pay for, but it will save you on gym fees.
If you’re considering a new gym…
- Use the free pass and actually see what it’s like. (Hint: you can also do this while travelling to train for free.)
- Make sure it has the right equipment, and the dumbbells don’t stop at 50 lbs.
- Go at the time you would be training.