Tag Archives: gym

Should you really hate Planet Fitness?

By Big Dan aka Coach Motivation

By now, you have heard people absolutely bash Planet Fitness. Whether they are ragging on “Pizza Mondays”, “The lunk alarm”, or the purple and yellow equipment, people really seem to hate this place. I’ve heard the commercials, talking about a “judgement free zone” where “lunks” are not allowed. I get how easy it is to make fun of this place because they chose to be different with their marketing and their slogan, when perhaps; they are really just making this a “douche free zone.” I’ve been lifting seriously since 2002; I’m 6’4, 255 lbs with 20 inch arms. I know from that description you probably immediately think “he’s a lunk.” I am also a personal trainer in Wichita, Kansas which is known as “the mecca” of YMCA facilities. The facilities are amazing, sprawling thousands of square feet with innumerous amounts of machines, free weights, squat racks, swimming pools, each one a first class facility. While literally thousands of people come through these facilities every day, hundreds to the weight room, I have to observe people using the worst form, I have to constantly tell people not to drop the weights, I hear the weirdest sounds of people grunting, squealing, and whining, instead of breathing correctly. I can tell you, if you don’t want to go to planet fitness because you can’t do these three things, you probably shouldn’t be in any gym until you correct yourself. Chances are, you are lifting too much weight, using incorrect form while using that weight, and making minimal gains. In my opinion, “lunk” is a kind word, douche is more appropriate and every gym should have an alarm! First they should have an introduction to the weight room video you watch before you are allowed in!

Note: If you are a true bodybuilder, powerlifter, or serious athlete and you use correct form and truly need heavy weight, Planet Fitness is not meant for you and that’s OKAY. However, you don’t have to hate because you think they called you a “Lunk.” You are not a lunk.

First off, what is a good definition of a “lunk?”

Look, unless you are a powerlifter, you shouldn’t be doing any less than 8 repetitions. Anyone can argue with me to the cows come home on this one, but the fact is, when building muscle, you want to focus on the concentric and eccentric motion of the lift, and the time under tension. If you didn’t comprehend what concentric and eccentric motions are, then you probably should go ahead and stop hating planet fitness now and start educating yourself. I don’t know how many times, high school age people would come into the gym, load the bar or machine up, let the weight come crashing down, only to use every muscle but the one being worked to get the weight up. Then, after making the sounds of a dying Spartan warrior, they leave without racking their weights. Ego lifting doesn’t get you big muscles, and it won’t get you the girl wearing the yoga pants who is doing endless Romanian deadlifts in front of the mirrors, in front of everyone either.

Another “lunky” activity is attempting to do crossfit lifts in a crowded commercial gym or health care facility. Crossfit is like Walgreens, there is a facility on every corner that will allow you to do 1 rep Max while dropping your weight from above your head with horrible form, ensuring that only Chiropractors rival the amount of Crossfit gyms, and Walgreens on every corner. (Nothing against chiropractors, there are just a a lot of you, however, some of you are really good)

Look, I get those 90 lb dumbbells are heavy, but, unless your name is Ronnie Coleman, 8-time Mr. Olympia, or Brian Shaw, 2 time world’s strongest man, and you are using 200 lb dumbbells working out in your own garage gym, or the Metroflex in Arlington, Texas, you shouldn’t be dropping the dumbbells. When finishing a set of dumbbell presses, if you can’t sit up and bring them to your knees and set them on the floor, you need to be using less weight.  Not only are you endangering people around you, you are loosening the dumbbells making them dangers and unstable for others to use. If you focused on lowering the weight with control and contracting the muscle on the way up, you will get a better pump, tear down more muscle fibers, and maximize gains all the while not being a “lunk” and sending a thunderous roll of “look at how strong I am” through the gym.

Now, I haven’t met anyone that was really intimidating at the gym. In fact, the biggest guys in the gym have always been the nicest, often offering advice, a spot, or just a laugh. They also typically use the correct form, don’t drop the weights, and re-rack their heavy weights. If you do run into someone who is big, makes rude remarks at people that are not his friends, takes weight from other people without asking, or laughs at you, this person is a douche and should not be allowed in a weight room. I have yet to encounter a gym bully in the 13 plus years I have been lifting. However, if you are intimidated by people with muscular physiques, that work out hard, and lift heavy weights correctly, then you are for sure the problem, not them.

In summary

Perhaps you are a member of another commercial chain, health club, or home gym, if so, congratulations. However, if you are “hating” on a facility that in fact isn’t trying to cater to YOU, whether you are a “serious lifter” or just a jerk that does all the things listed above that define a “lunk”, then you are just a bully. If you look at it, Planet Fitness isn’t trying to tell you that you don’t belong at their gym; they are just saying they don’t want douche-baggery at their facility which is described in politically correct terms as a “lunk.” If you are a serious lifter, bodybuilder, powerlifter, cross-fitter, be proud of it! You aren’t considered a “lunk” as long as you don’t, drop your weights obnoxiously and dangerously, grunt like a dying Spartan, 1 rep-max using the incorrect form, or do crossfit in a crowded area endangering everyone around you while dropping your weights from 6 feet in the air. While it may seem like Planet Fitness hates “fit people”, they are really just  trying to cater to people who may be scared to enter a “Gold’s Gym” or another facility where a lot of “Lunk” related activity happens. Admit it, you hate it when people do that crap too. So next time you are working out be conscious of the way you are lifting, chances are, you probably hate the activity described above. I’m sure you’d love to warm up before you hit the leg press, but not with the 800 lbs the person used last left on there! So let’s give Planet Fitness a break, if you truly embrace a healthy lifestyle, you should be happy there is a place that people may feel more comfortable working out at. The whole pizza thing, well, maybe it fits their Macro’s? Just remember, “haters gonna hate, and potatoes gonna potate!”

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Motivation: The Ultimate key to success

By “Big” Dan McCarthy aka “Coach Motivation”

My motivation for writing this blog today, on February 24, 2015, was an episode of “My 600lb life” on TLC. When I first started watching the episode, I was sitting down; I’ve seen the situation all too many times, a person continuously putting the wrong type of foods in their mouth causing them to gain weight. As a personal trainer, I began to look at the food and add up the calories, and then I took into account non-active lifestyle, coupled with adopted attitude of “I don’t care,” a phrase often thrown out to mask the person’s inability to admit the health risk of obesity. Those who are overweight, obese, use the “I don’t care, this is who I am” as a way to shun those who look at it from a purely vane aspect rather than a life threating danger. The fact is, being overweight can bring on a slew of health issues, from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes, heart disease just to name a few. So as I began to further watch the episode, I found myself standing, I had already solved the diet issue, obviously the exercise would be minimal as she was so large, anything more than some arm movements and walking from one side of the room to the other might not only discourage her already weak mindset, it may cause intense pain or even worse, a heart attack. However, let’s go! I’ve solved this! I can help this lady! Then as I was watching, she entered the grocery store, sat down and began to cry, her mother at her side, she began to talk about how hard it was for her to move, how it made her sad, how it made her scared, then after catching her breath, they proceeded in filling the grocery cart with chips, cakes, pies, and anything else that would contribute to pushing oneself further into the void. It was at this point I realized, she didn’t need a trainer, she needed a therapist. Someone who could help her find that motivation, to help her realize she hadn’t reached the point of no return. When you think about it, the point of no return means the person has come to the conclusion that the distance to return to a healthy state is much farther than it is to keep going and face what could be their ultimate fear: death.

So how can a personal trainer play the role of both a therapist and physical coach when approached by someone who is looking to make a change?

In the above question I said “looking” because looking and “wanting” are two completely different things. If I am looking at getting a new car, I haven’t bought in, but if I want a car, I am already sold and want to take it off the lot. So how can you have someone want to make a change rather than someone who is “forced” to make a change? Well, anyone can have you run on the treadmill, show you how to lift weights, make you do endless push-ups, until you want to turn right around and head back to that couch or that buffet that put you where you were, because that’s your comfort zone. The food is what you know, the buffet, or junk food aisle is where you have been comfortable at, and eating it is therapeutic and has made you happy. However, the food is also what has made you where you are, uncomfortable, at risk for disease, or even worse, increasing your chance of death.

A personal trainer must not look at an obese person from the outside only, they are not just body fat percentages, BMI charts, or measurements, they are people who are struggling with mental and emotional issues and are looking up this proverbial Mt. Everest of weight loss thinking, I’ll never get to the top!  As a personal trainer, you must find that person’s source of motivation. “Why are you here?” or “What has motivated you to make the change?” If they tell you, “The doctor sent me” you must realize that they are in front of you under doctor’s orders, not because they have the positive motivational factors to make a change. Ask them questions like, “Do you have kids, do you have grandkids, do you want them to see them grow, or stay active with them? Tell me what it means to you to see that happen.” Or “When you were at your healthiest, didn’t you feel great? Wouldn’t you want to feel that way again? If so, tell my why you want to feel that way.” These are all powerful questions that will help you find that source of motivation to ignite the spark, to get them to realize, not only do I HAVE to do this, I WANT to do this! The effort someone will give you when they want something or desperately need something is ten times the effort someone will give you when they have to do something. Once you find their source of motivation, you can now turn that spark, into a fire by letting them know you will be there with them every step of the way, they will climb Mt. Everest one step at a time, setting small goals along the way, and nailing every one of them. Yes, you will fall at times, but you will get back up and keep moving forward, that’s with anything in life, but the ability to get back up lies within the person who falls. The person who is helping them can only offer encouragement, guidance, and lay out the plan. In order to succeed, you must truly know the motivating factor in the person seeking help. Have them right down that they are committed to succeed followed by their main motivational factor and constantly remind them of why they are making these changes. They have to believe passionately in their motivational factor in order for them to seek change.

Changing the way someone looks at healthy eating and exercise is important, if they hate running and push-ups and that’s what you have them doing, they are more likely to fail. Finding something they can do that is fun for them and keeps them active is critical. Exercising and eating healthy should not be a punishment, but rather a valuable time in our day allowing us to relieve stress, improve our health, and extend our life. Once the negative views of the gym, exercise, and healthy foods are cleared and they are seen as things we get to do, to keep us out of the doctor’s office, out of the operating room, and out of the morgue, the motivation levels should continue to increase.

When you are talking with a person who has not sought help, but they have expressed unhappiness with their current lifestyle, you must find out their fears of change. What makes them so scared to take that first step? Is their main fear simply the fear of not knowing where to start? Perhaps it’s the fear of being judged, or just the impossibility of climbing that mountain? It is the personal trainer’s role to bring out those feelings, to get them talking about their fears and relate with them on the fear of change. Talk to them about your experience with exercise, how you first came about trying something new, the fears you had, and some of the things you used to get going. When I first started lifting, I wanted to be big like Hulk Hogan, I was a 160 lb cross country runner and my end goal was looking like Hulk Hogan, a 300 lb beast with “24 inch pythons.” I was afraid everyone was going to look at me in the weight room like, “what’s this skinny kid doing in here?” I soon realized everyone in the weight room was there simply to better themselves, not to sit around and judge who was skinny, fat, or weak.  I knew my goal wasn’t going to going to happen overnight, but after years of training, persistence, and commitment, I was able to get 21 inch arms, weigh 285 lbs, and bench press 525 lbs. People don’t believe me when I tell them, but when I let them know I have been down that road, even if my goals were completely different, they can relate to the struggle I had, and they can also see the mountain I had to climb.  For you, perhaps it was the accountability of friends, the desire to want to get back to a size you used to be, the desire to attempt to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol without medication. Developing a rapport with someone through relating or understanding will certainly help them achieve a level of comfort, and allow them to open up and eventually  commit to THEMSELVES that they want to make the change with their newfound motivation being the driving reason to change.

Had I not watched that episode today, I might not be as motivated to share my thoughts, opinions, and ideas to help inspire those who are currently training people, or those who have the opportunity to help someone make an impact on someone who needs to make lifestyle change. Regardless of the person’s age or weight, it’s never too late to start improving yourself, you just have to find the motivation to change, and never be afraid to ask for help! It’s not just a physical change you are making; it’s a mental change as well! Just as the saying goes, “Its 80% mental and 20% physical!”

Any questions? Feel free to e-mail me at danb.mccarthy@yahoo.com

Have today’s bodybuilders gone to far?

by Dan McCarthy

Bodybuilding has certainly evolved since its inception well over 70 years ago. The images of former super heroes like Charles Atlas and Steve Reeves when compared to today’s behemoths almost make us pose the question, “did they even lift, brah?” Of course gyms, dietary knowledge, supplements, and yes, even steroids, have evolved significantly since those days. Professional bodybuilding should be considered a science as calculating macros, timing your protein, analyzing the best lifts with the right amount of sets and reps, is all part of the well planned out regime of a bodybuilder. However, like in any sport, performance enhancers, though illegal, are easily obtained and utilized for athletes to get the competitive edge and simply perform better. Now keep in mind, performance enhancers are just that, enhancers. Yes they can make you put on muscle easier, recover faster, and get bigger, but at the end of the day, you still have to eat right, train insanely hard and to be a professional bodybuilder, you have to have the right genetic makeup. So no, if you attribute a bodybuilder’s success to steroids, you are uneducated on bodybuilding and uninformed. Barry Bonds goes out and hits 70 plus home runs and everyone says it was due to the performance enhancing drugs he possibly took and the same for Lance Armstrong winning the Tour DE France. The fact is, if you trained exactly like Barry or Lance, took everything they took, you still would not beat them because they are just better. I cannot hit a baseball to save my life, if you gave me performance enhancers, I would not be able to hit it any better. My goal in writing is not solely about performance enhancers, it is about the overuse of them in professional bodybuilding and the freakishly big, un-aesthetic physiques of today.

 

Pumping Iron

If you are an avid gym rat, bodybuilder, power-lifter, strongman then you probably have seen Pumping Iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his band of lovable cohorts that meet up at gold’s gym in Venice daily to train and build the best bodies in the world to hopefully take home the Mr. Olympia trophy. Watching this movie back in 2002 I thought these physiques were unbelievable and so big, I was 19 and just really started lifting, so the thought of ever achieving a physique like that was a long way down the road.  Arnold was 6’2 235 lbs at his biggest for the Olympia; he was ripped and had huge arms. In my eye, and the eye of many others, this physique is probably the most perfect to ever walk the planet. Arnold had huge arms and chest with a tiny waist and perfect symmetry, and big defined legs. Being that he was probably 6% body fat or less at 235 lbs is by no means easy, and the fact that his genetics allowed him to develop the peaks on his biceps, the perfect chest, is also helpful. As you can see from the picture below, the physique should be considered a work of art. Arnold has admitted that they used the oral drug dianabol and possibly a testosterone form as well; however, like I said before, these physiques cannot be obtained by just taking these enhancers.  These physiques were born from genetic gifts, extremely hard work, and diet.

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Generation Iron

Physiques in the 90’s and 2000 had drastically changed in the bodybuilding world compared to the days of Arnold, competitors grew bigger, leaner, and developed more cuts and striations in their muscles. In the days of Arnold, Lou Ferrigno competed around 275 lbs at a height a 6’5. Today competitors are 5’10 and competing near 290-300 lbs. Along with the growing weight has come growing waistlines, albeit the bodybuilders still have 6 packs, their stomachs have grown bigger too, eliminating the symmetry and true v-taper which is what bodybuilding used to be. Arnold mentioned in the movie Generation Iron, that today’s bodybuilders have 23 inch necks and have seemingly gone too far. Today’s pro’s claim that the people want to see a freak show, muscle on muscle ripped to the bone. Along with superbly calculated diets, top of the line trainers, god given genetics, and undeniable hard work, comes the performance enhancers, which undoubtedly have changed the physiques to become much larger through the use of insulin and growth hormones. I’ll say it again, give me all the enhancers they take and I still wouldn’t look like them, they just have a better genetic make-up for bodybuilding. (Ronnie wasn’t in Generation Iron, but competed at nearly 300 lbs before)

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The aesthetic movement

While there is nothing more impressive than huge arms, a well-defined chest, and a mean set of wheels, some people are pushing for a return to a more aesthetic physique. A “founding father” of the “aesthetic movement” has to be the late youtube star Aziz “Zyzz” Sergeyevich Shavershian. Zyzz was a natural ectomorph who worked hard to put on every ounce of muscle, and with every ounce of muscle he looked ripped and shredded due to his genetic make-up. Regardless of possible performance enhancing use, the physique was very aesthetic and the women no doubt loved the ripped and not overly muscular look. Zyzz died tragically in 2011 at the age of 22 in a Bangkok Sauna.

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How big is too big?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder so as long as people attend the Olympia, purchase the magazines, I don’t see the physique changing anytime soon. Perhaps if one of the top bodybuilders tried to come in lighter, with a more aesthetic physique to make a statement and won, then, and probably only then, would there be a move back to a more aesthetic bodybuilding competition. I don’t purchase bodybuilding magazines anymore because I know that no matter how hard I train, how much I eat, I can never be a mass monster like those guys on the current covers. An aesthetic physique seem more attainable, so I am more likely to follow a routine of a more “natural” looking bodybuilder or wrestler with a muscular but not overly done physique. I am not concerned whether or not they take a performance enhancer as that is their choice and I know how much hard work and commitment went into their physiques. We may never see a return to a more aesthetic physique unless the judges determine the distended bellies with six packs on top are no longer pleasing to the eye. Until then, train hard, train smart, and lift!