Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dealing with dumbbells

I walked into the gym today and saw a wimpy, skinny guy, trying hard to stick out his chest. Nothing unusual, it is a gym, right? Well, he was telling a very muscular, obviously physically-fit woman what exercises she should be doing.

What’s wrong with this picture? I thought.

To her credit, she put down her 35 lb. dumbbells, smiled and nodded politely. Seemingly satisfied, the young man moved on. I couldn’t help but wonder why do men feel they can approach women and give them unsolicited advice in the gym? Is it too much testosterone? Are they flirting? Or are they really just trying to be helpful?

I grew up a “gym-rat,” surrounded by “weight-woosters” (my baby talk for weightlifters) since before I was old enough to walk. With an Olympic weightlifter for a father, even our family vacations centered around weightlifting meets. I started training at a young age and am by no means an expert, but I can spot a phony, male or female, a mile away, in the gym.

At the local YMCA, there was a guy who continually advised women on what exercises they should be doing, and some of them looked pretty strange. Ladies, if it feels unnatural, it probably is.

When I was eight months pregnant, this same guy approached me and told me about some shoulder exercises that I could do. Was he serious? That’s the last body part pregnant women care about. Finally, enough women complained about his “helpfulness” that he was banned for life from the Y. We later found out he belonged to several gyms and portrayed himself as a guru to many, many women around town.

I can see why women are drawn to ladies’ only gyms. As for myself, I have joined a gym in which the medium age is 75 years. Those men may actually have some advice worth hearing, but they are smart enough to keep it to themselves.

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