|Not sure if that's rust, or blood.|
I finally feel confident enough in my running ability to do half marathons and support some Bro-Science. It is a Monday-Friday routine involving 8-12 rep sets with all the classic lifts. Needless to say, going to the gym to pump iron introduces you to some interesting characters. Everybody there is awesome once you get to know them, but at first, it is like being the new wolf in the pack.
There is no greater place an Earth (short of prison) to see how little humans have developed past their animalistic behaviors than the gym.
NSFW Language (but that makes it moar funny - the Stick Chick)
Once you step into the weight lifting area of the gym there is a disturbance in the force. Immediately the other guys start sizing you up – you are the newbie in their hunting grounds. Unless you want to make your lifting life Hell, you gotta show some respect. You will be faced with grunts, mean mugging and general posturing. Before you ruffle your feathers, you gotta make sure you have them to begin with. A bro benching 1 plate (135 lbs) is not going to earn respect from his lift – it has to be from BEING respectful and knowing your place.
In the wild, the biggest animal is the Alpha male, unless a smaller animal can physically dominate them. This is true for the gym too – and since its not likely that you will be kicking asses all over the place to assume dominance, it is safe to assume that the Bro with the biggest bench is the Alpha. Saw a guy benching 3 plates (315 lbs) the other day, he has the throne for all I care.
This is MY House
So after people see where your lifts are at, your place in the gym food chain is established. The balance in the force has returned. This is where you start making friends. Bros will “spot” you if you need it and its crystal clear who has right of way at the weights.
Then some females mosey over into the weight area. This is where things get interesting. They immediately have the right of way to even the biggest guys. In fact, some of the guys will take turns flirting around with them – and even if the girls dont even know them, the guys will look at each other like they are their property. They will give you the “they're mine” look even if they have never seen the girls before. Its such a funny thing to see. Every guy in the gym is now ruffling feathers. More weight is suddenly added to every machine occupied and the room tempurature literaly goes up from all of the exertion.
So, like, do you come here often?
I'm surprised that mirrors havent broken from all of the ego-driven self admiration that comes from a heavy set. Ever heard of a “pump?” Yeah, you gotta admire it.
Everybody is at the gym for one reason – to get in shape. Whatever shape that may be is up to them. In the realm of weight lifting it is to gain muscular size. Ultimately that is good for two things – to climb up the food chain and to attract mates. That's it.
Even after you make friends and fit into the food chain, there will still be a minimal amount of talking going on. Guys say all they have to say with their lifts. We are so primal when we are in the gym that its hard to believe that we can even function in normal society when we leave for work.
You looking at my weights, Bro?
Now let me add that I absolutely LOVE this side of humanty. I am in no way the strongest guy in the gym, but being around all of this testosterone fueled posturing is extremely motivating. Yes, I feel intimidated when my 185 lb bench workout is nothing compared to some of the guys in there, but it makes me lift harder every day. Something about reverting into our primal state is extremely liberating and it reminds me that no matter how far technology comes along – we will never stop being what we truly are. We are creatures on this planet just like everything else. If you don't believe me, step into a gym and go hang out with the gym rats.
So what does this have to do with the martial arts at all? Everything. This same kind of stuff goes on in the dojo too – just replace the weights with sparring. Yes we are better at being humble than the bros, but you know who the best is, who's the Alpha. Its in our nature to establish a pecking order. So whether you have a pack, a pride, or even just a flock, embrace it – we're only human!
Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras. You can contact Troy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed note: Opinions in "Troy-Kwon-Do" posts are those of Troy Seeling, and I don't always agree. Now if you'll excuse me, broham, it's leg day. -The Stick Chick