Transcription of a conversation that actually happened this week between an unrelated man and a woman weightlifting at the gym:
While doing incline bench press. . .
Dude: “How many sets do you have left?”
Dude: “Mind if I work in with you? I’ll just warm up once you finish this set.”
Dude: “I’ve seen you lifting some heavy weight before. Is this all you can do?” (referring to the 45lb bar)
Chick: Nervous laughter. “Yeah, that’s it.”
Dude: “You want to get the bar a little closer to your chin. It will give you more power.”
Chick: “Uh. . . okay. Thanks.” (editor’s note: her face did not say ‘thanks’)
Dude: “Did you tell me before that you were married?”
Chick: “Uhhh no? No. Not even close.”
Dude: “Oh, I thought that was you.”
. . .
While doing dumbbell bench press. . .
Dude: Goes over to Chick on the bench. “You want your elbows out a little more so they’re in line with your shoulders.” Touches her elbows to adjust them.
Chick: “Okay. Thanks.” (editor’s note: her face said ‘don’t fucking touch me’)
Dude: “I mean, you can do it with your elbows in a little. This is how I do it, with my elbows out.” Demonstrates what he’s talking about. “See. Like that.”
Meanwhile, I try to make eye contact with Dude so I can give him a look that says “Stop doing that. Really. Just stop.”
When Dude walks away to socialize with other gym rats . . .
I glance over and offer a look of “What the fuck?” to Chick and her face mirrors my own.
Chick: “Oh my god, he touched me!”
Me: Walk over to Chick so our conversation is not overheard. “What the hell was that about?”
Chick: “I don’t know, but he touched me.”
Me: “And ‘Is that all you can do?’ Is he for real?? That’s not cool. I hope he doesn’t come back.”
Chick: “I know. Thanks.”
Me and Chick proceed to bond over the struggle to build strength and how neither of us is athletic or can catch a ball if our life depended on it.
Here’s what’s wrong with this whole situation:
1) Unsolicited advice is never welcome at the gym. Don’t fix someone else’s form because if people wanted help they would hire a personal trainer. In this case, Chick’s form wasn’t even bad it was just different from Dude’s. But even if you see someone with absolutely atrocious form who you’re afraid is going to seriously injure themselves then just tell a personal trainer and they can choose whether or not to talk to that person.
2) If you can’t keep your mouth shut at least keep your advice hands-off. If someone wants a hands-on spotter, they will ask.
3) Never say “Is that all you can do?”. Ever. Especially to a woman who may feel self-conscious in the weight room and be struggling to feel comfortable there among heavy lifting men. And especially to a woman doing chest exercises which, in my own experience, is one of the hardest areas for women to build strength.
It’s moments like this that make me understand why the gym has women’s only rooms. And I now understand that he weights are lighter in these rooms because “that’s all we can do.”