Random Gym Etiquette

If you are a consistent gym-goer, you will have a pretty good idea what is acceptable gym etiquette, and what is behaviour that could make most people there hate you.  Lately where I train, there have been a lot of dingbats that need some education in gym etiquette.

I am just sitting down now to rant, calm myself and see what comes out – completely random.

1. Put your weights away! (In the proper place.  No the lady on the treadmill is not your mom even though she may have the same hairstyle, and she won’t put them away for you)

2. Wipe Wipe Wipe. (Pretend you smell like onions, which you probably do, and imagine your dream person is going to use the equipment after you.  Don’t let them know how stinky you are.  Even if there is no sweat, wipe it down.)

3. Unnecessary Noise/Grunts .  (There is always someone stronger than you, they are just quieter than you.  You don’t have to grunt and groan when lifting warm up weights.  I guarantee that 99/100 people think you are a moron, and that one person who thinks you are cool, is you.)

4. Don’t tell me about the girl you are looking at. (I have a Hot, Godly Wife at home, and I don’t need you to tell me there is a girl in tight pants that I should look at.  I know they are there, I don’t need to look and Jesus Says that is cheating in my heart.)

5. Girls, don’t show off. (Guys are too weak to try to control themselves, and the less clothes you wear, the more I have to preach to the guys who approach me about rant #4.)

6. Be Patient. (There are a lot of good-willed clueless people out there.  They may plant they sweaty arse on your bench, just before you are about to lay back and dumbbell press <this has happened to me>, and when they get up there is a nice line of sweat from their butt crack, right where your head is going to go, but they don’t mean any harm, just say “Oh, excuse me.”)

7. Don’t Fight Over Cardio Equipment! (Follow the rules, stick to the time limit, don’t be selfish, go run outside if it is nice, or go squat instead.)

8. Allow people a way out of a conversation (Lots of people just want to work out.  Ask if they are OK to chat, or if they just want to work out.  Some people are too polite to tell you to shut your trap.)

9. Don’t pee in the shower! (I’m sure you have seen the Seinfeld episode where George does this… Anyways, don’t do it, save it for the pool, most pools don’t have the dye in the water I have found out.  Also on this note, don’t spit or wash your face in the water fountain.)

10. Love your Neighbour as yourself.  (The gym will run smooth if this is followed.  Forget that, the World would run smooth if this is followed!)

I’ll stop at 10.  Feel Free to comment with some of your gym etiquette stories or any added rules!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Finding Time to Train (My Story)

You may think that it is easy for a Strength Coach to train themselves, but it is just as challenging as the busiest person.  No excuses still, a strength coach must be in great shape, and show discipline and proper training methods.

If your trainer is not in shape, or doesn’t even train themselves, I don’t know how motivating that is and really, it is plain stupid because they should know all the benefits of being physically active.

On that note, I’ll let you into my life of training myself…

A few years ago I stopped playing competitive rugby where I would train in the gym 3 times a week and have rugby training sessions twice, and a game (or 2) on Saturdays.  I would always take Sundays off.  So after I stopped playing rugby, my 3 sessions in the gym remained, playing Hockey on Sunday Nights, along with runs and other recreational activity.

Two years ago, we had twin boys, and then I was a Zombie for 6months.  My wife and I would run on about 3hours combined sleep through the night looking after our premature studs.  After 6 months we were starting to get regular sleep and my training became more consistent.

Fast forward to these days, we have decided not to put our Boys in daycare so my wife and I organise our work around looking after our toddlers.  We both work all over the Lower Mainland which involves a lot of driving time.  We are committed to being involved at our church on top of all our life activities.  Right now I can squeeze in about 3 times a week to train in the gym and write the odd blog.

In February I competed in the BC Powerlifting Winter Open and ramped up my training heading into that with my supportive Wife allowing me extra time in the gym.  Starting in November I added Squats on Sunday nights, then would train Mon, Wed, Fri with all the other lifting.  Most of my workouts were about an hour in length.

After Christmas the whole family got sick with a stomach flu which interrupted training, often allowing me to only train twice a week, but I always I made it in to squat heavy.

In the competition on Feb 13th, I Squat 202.5KG (446lbs), Benched 130kg (286.6lbs), and Deadlifted 195kg (429lbs) weighing 156lbs.  Official Results Here.  A great day of lifting with some good buddies to support me and enjoyed my first bit of competition since playing Rugby.  Training is always more enjoyable when you have something to achieve.

Since the competition I have been working on my Olympic Lifting Technique and playing hockey occasionally, along with tossing my boys in the air etc.  Hopefully Life will allow me to compete in Olympic Weightlifting in the fall.

On my plate right now is allowing my wife time to study as she finishes her Masters in Science, and I have now started working with Canada’s U20 Mens Rugby Team that will be heading to Georgia in Eastern Europe for the World Youth Rugby Trophy (Cheer On Canada and Support Rugby!).  My plan now is to train at a less than ideal gym closer to our house after our kids go to bed.  This will allow me to spend more time with the family before I am away to Vancouver Island and Georgia for most of May and the beginning of June.

No matter how busy you are, or I am, there is always time to fit training in somewhere.  You also have enough time to achieve results.  They may not be ideal results, but you can still achieve something.

Below is a Video from my Powerlifting Competition.  I am self-conscious with my attire, so no comments on that!


Posted in Life, Lifestyle, Powerlifting, Strength | Leave a comment

New Pool Needed?: My Post For Tenthtothefraser.ca

My Boys Working Their Kiddie Pool

The new year has been very busy for me and I have not had a post on here for a bit.  However, I was asked to write a post for my friends at tenthtothefraser.ca that you can check out.

My intent was not to trash the City or City Council, but to inform individuals with my opinion on the current status of the Canada Games Pool, and promote discussion on the issue.

You can read/discuss the post here

Posted in Canada Game Pool, Kids, Lifestyle | Leave a comment

Running Not Required (via Share the Run)

Family Snowshoeing on Mt. Seymour. My Wife’s post!

Running Not Required Wondering what to do for exercise during the winter? I have been. I love running. It is by far my most preferred form of exercise. One that is totally exhilarating for me. But when winter comes I face a series of challenges that hold me back from embracing my running routine on a regular basis. First off, it's cold. Who am I surprising with that comment?! While I like the cold and enjoy bundling up in sweaters, my ears do not enjoy running in col … Read More

via Share the Run

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Start Now!

January is quickly approaching.  As you read this, people are purchasing a holiday trunk load of groceries, filled with high caloric (delicious) additives.  Once these treats are consumed, they will once again be found in a trunk, and not your automobile’s.

Each year, countless people prepare for New Year’s fitness by gorging themselves through the holidays without discipline.  This is like firefighters driving up to a burning house and tossing on extra lumber, patio furniture, garden gnomes, and gasoline, sitting back to roast marsh mellows and discussing how best to deal with the house when the time is convenient.

Obviously Firefighters approach each call with urgency and discipline, ultimately prepared.  Likewise, if you want better fitness and health in the New Year, be proactive now so that you will have the discipline and self control to keep with your goals in 2011.

Here are 8 tips to help you toward your goals.

1. Start Now! If your house is on fire you won’t delay in putting out the fire.  Exercise (Canada’s Physical Activity Guide), eat according to the Canada Food Guide and have fun!

2. Practice Self Control and Discipline: You will not succeed without these two characteristics.  Discipline is conscious thought, planning and dedication while self control is the ability to overcome internal challenges that will knock you off track.  For example, a rugby player who practices and trains all through the week with a game on the weekend is disciplined, but when angered on the field, fights out of lack of self control and is thrown out of the game.

Practice these characteristics now in your lifestyle, specifically with physical activity and diet.

3. Goals! Goals! Goals! Set performance goals, which will be more fun than stepping on the scale.  Use S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, with a Time-line) Goals.

Plan a hike in the summer.  Enter a race (sun run is fun).  Do a New West Loop (Hill Workout).  Learn a new sport.  Take on your own landscaping/gardening project.  If you are able to reach your performance goal, I guarantee you will look better than if you trained only for aesthetics and you will have more fun.  Aesthetics training is torture for your mind, and body!

4. Lift Weights: Learn some simple free weight exercises with good technique, and your overall health and performance will skyrocket!  Furthermore you will look and better and no ladies you will not put on bulky muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger.  MAKE SURE YOU LEARN PROPER TECHNIQUE!

5. Do Cardio: Use your heart, lungs and circulatory system every day.  Work towards 30mins moderate activity 4+ days a week.  Walking, Running, Hiking, Swimming etc.

6.  Get A Partner: Support each other, reach your goals together.  It works!

7. If You Don’t Know, Ask! If you have specific goals, but don’t know how to get there, ask a professional.  Everything done in training should be done for a reason and backed by research.  If you want to get a six pack by doing abdominal crunches, it won’t happen but you may get a herniated disc!  Be aware that there is a lot of Fitness Garbage out there, just to get your money.  Look for professionals who have university degrees with additional certification from CSEP and NSCA.


Posted in Canada Game Pool, Diet, Fitness Advice, Lifestyle, Strength, Weight Loss | Leave a comment

Back Pain Part 1. My Child Labour

Almost everyone has experienced some degree of lower back pain (LBP), myself included.  In this post I give some personal experience with back pain in hopes to get you thinking about your own back health.

When I was 17, going into grade 12, I got a summer job sandblasting metal trusses for Coverall Building Systems in Hague SK, just outside Saskatoon.  For this job, I was put in coveralls, with a big plastic helmet with a hose pumping air into it so I would not have to breathe silica sand.  The sandblasting room was about 12 feet by 8 feet and the truss would come in from the welders when I pushed a big red button.

I had to sandblast all the welds on each side of the truss, ducking back and forth under the truss, pulling the heavy hose that blasted the sand.  When I was finished the truss, I pushed the button, and another one came in… Lots of fun for a kid.

The best part of this job was that halfway through my shift, the sand would accumulate reaching 4-8 inches deep all through the room.  Outside the room was a big wooden box and a shovel!  Keep in mind that this is during a Saskatchewan summer where it is usually above 30C.  So I would shovel all the sand out of the room into the bin, and then start blasting again.  I did get some breaks where I could hang out with all the veterans of the plant who would fill the lunchroom with a haze of cigarette smoke.

After a month, my back was killing me on my right side and I was starting to smell like cigarettes.  I thought to myself, ‘This is the last summer I have while in high school, this sucks’.  I explained to the forman that although I was making incredible money, $2.50 over minimum wage to total $8.50/hr, I was going to have to end my lively hood and enjoy being a kid.  Their response was, ‘You’re still in high school?!’

I am thankful for this experience.  I realised how hard many people work to support their families, and I this job confirmed that I wanted to go to University.

My second stint of LBP came with commuting to University on the bus and skytrain.  I would slouch and sleep and look like one of those pathetic, lethargic commuters for about 2 hours a day.  This slouching and then sitting in lectures really caused my back to be ticked off.  Tight and just not feeling right, down in the middle of my back, just above my butt.

Dr. Stuart McGill out of the University of Waterloo has world leading research on back health and low back disorders that I have been digging into.  It has revolutionised my whole approach to training and my own personal daily activities.  Check out his website at www.backfitpro.com

McGill offers this approach when dealing with Low Back Disorders which I now follow.

The five stages of exercise progression:

  • Stage 1: Corrective Exercise
  • Stage 2: Stability
  • Stage 3: Endurance
  • Stage 4: Strength
  • Stage 5: Power and Speed

For rehab clients he recommends the first three stages and for athletes he adds the 4th and 5th stages.

Let’s look at my examples of LBP.

In both of my above examples, I had horrible movement/position patterns.  When sandblasting, I was always twisting with a flexed lumbar spine (in the above photo, this sandblaster has a rounded back which may seem fine to most people, but hours of this position will lead to injury).  When commuting, I was slouched with a flexed lumbar spine.  The cumulative damage of these movements lead to my discomfort and back pain.  Often my sleep was disturbed because my back was so uncomfortable.

When I quit my sandblasting job halfway through my summer, by the end my back was feeling normal.  Also, in the summers when I was not commuting for University, my back felt great.  My underlying factors for back pain were removed, so my symptoms went away.

Now not everyone is able to quit or run away from their environments that cause them back pain.  People need to commute and people need physical and desk jobs, but there are strategies that you can use to avoid back pain, and strategies that you can use to rehab back pain.

If you have back pain, try to think about your underlying factors.  What movements do you do repetitively?  Does your lumbar spine flex often?  While reading this is your head forward bringing your back to be rounded?  How about when you drive?

Many people do ‘Core’ training to help their backs, but they still have back pain.  Many ‘Core’ exercises cause more damage and only make the pain worse (Do you do sit-ups and crunches?).  Also, if underlying factors for back pain are not removed, the back pain will not go away.

Over the next few weeks I hope to put up some posts with some videos to help you understand the first three stages of McGill’s approach and give you some practical ways to get rid of your back pain.

I am not a superblogger by any means, so if you can’t wait for my posts to help you get rid of your back pain, send me an email or buy some of McGill’s resources from the above website and get at it.

You don’t have to live with back pain!

Posted in Back Pain, Core | Leave a comment

Coquitlam Fire Fighter Recruit Testing

On Saturday I helped a fellow Exercise Physiologist (Mike Stafford, Stafford Consulting) with the Coquitlam Fire & Rescue Department’s Psycho-Motor Testing.  We had over 100 applicants go through the testing, which made for a long day.

It was a pleasure to be involved with such high class and well prepared applicants and I am sure the Department is going to have a tough job ahead of them selecting the few for the job, but will end up with some quality recruits.

A brief outline of the testing can be found here.  All of the tests administered are scientifically researched, valid and reliable.  Mike has done a tremendous job of putting the testing together to provide Fire Departments with valuable information in aiding their recruiting decisions.

The atmosphere among the applicants was very interesting.  Each individual was competing against themselves to do their best while knowing they will be compared with everyone else in the group.  You could feel the controlled nerves and anticipation in the air and all the while, each applicant carried themselves in a very professional manner.  I have never seen such an encouraging group of people who were all competing against one another for something they each greatly desired.

In one group doing the 1.65 Mile run, nearing the 12 minute mark, one of the applicants took a nasty spill on the track.  Even though the other applicants knew they were being timed, a group of them helped their fellow competitor to get up and stay in the recruiting process.  It was like a scene out of a movie, actually (A little like in ‘The Ringer’ but different).

If you are a Coquitlam Resident, you should be extremely proud of the way your Fire and Rescue Department goes about their thorough recruiting process.  By the time applicants are selected for psycho-motor testing, the standard is already extremely high.  By the end of this process, your municipality will have the best recruits in the country.

Furthermore, if you are interested in becoming a Fire Fighter with any municipality in the Lower Mainland, you had better work your butt off in preparation, because I have just tested your competition and it is First Class.

Posted in Testing | Leave a comment