I am bit shell-shocked at the moment and I don’t know where to share my disbelief. My blog is about brain cancer, but as I continue living this blog is also about living despite my diagnosis. This also means I will blog about my life moving forward and me growing as a person, collecting experiences and finding new interests and hobbies.

And one of those interests/hobbies is weightlifting.

Think: Olympics. Not bodybuilding.

I lift weights because it is challenging to my central nervous system and because I like getting stronger.

It feels good to lift heavy carry-on luggage into the storage space above my plane seat without needed to ask anyone for help.

Anyway. The point of me writing this at the moment is that I am shell-shocked. Shocked by meatheads in the fitness industry.

I workout at a really rad “gym” in Sacramento that focuses on quality over quantity. The trainers at my gym would rather see me (and everyone else who comes through the doors) do one perfect push-up than 20 sloppy push-ups. Sloppy push-ups only train you to do sloppy push-ups. What’s the point of working out if you are just going to do the same thing incorrectly over and over again? Of course, doing one push-up the correct way is harder. No one said the right way is easy. It is because it is hard that makes it worth doing. I am not a trainer, but I have definitely drank the Kool-Aid at my gym.

I am still digressing… sorry.

The good part about my gym is that it is near my job. The bad part is that it is 25 miles away from home and on weekends I do not go into said gym.

Recently I set a goal for myself that I am going to enter an Olympic weightlifting competition in August 2015. Yes! You read that correctly! OMG! I can’t believe I am even saying this! I will explore this more in future blog posts.

Since setting that goal I know I need to practice this stuff a bit more and I want to workout on Saturday mornings. I don’t have to go to my rad gym on Saturdays, I could find a gym closer to home to practice these moves. So today I visited a local gym. And it made me want to puke.

Fitness dude

I was met at the counter by a young guy. He was straight from central casting as the fitness dude. He had lots of energy. I said I wanted to know if they had equipment for Olympic lifting. He stood up to shake my hand, and said he was impressed that I knew what that was. Little did he know, I knew more about the gym and lifting than him. Honestly, I should just look for Primo Fitness USA gym equipment for sale and set up my own gym. At least then I’d get good service!

Would he have shaken my hand if I was a man? I wondered.

For the sake of brevity I won’t go into many details regarding the equipment.

Fitness dude took me into a weight room PACKED with complicated equipment, and some regular powerlifting stuff. There were a million metal plates in the various configurations for powerlifting: 5, 10, 25, 35 and 45 pound weights. I saw some 45 pound bars.

“Where are the bumper plates?” I asked. Bumper plates are what you need for Olympic lifts. They are like all the other weights, but covered in rubber so you can drop the bar and let it bounce on the ground.

The fitness dude said, “As you can see the ground is rubber so you can drop these regular metal weights on the ground and it is OK!” He then proceeded to lift a heavy bar off of some squat mechanism that was loaded with 220 pounds (with no clips on each side) and dropped it on the ground. He didn’t even look at what he was lifting for safety sake. He was trying to show off as if to say, I lift so heavy that I can just pick this thing up no big deal. Who cares about safety, right?

I said, “Do you have any women’s bars?”

“Women’s bars? I didn’t even know they make those.”

“Yes, women compete with a bar that is 33.3 pounds,” I informed him. “I can use a 45 pound bar, but I also like to warm up with lighter weights. I use a 15 pound bar, then go to the 33, then to the 45.”

He said, “Oh, well you can probably use that bar.” Then he pointed to a bar about a meter long typically used for curls.

I didn’t even know what to say. I just looked at him with the you’ve got to be kidding me face.

“Do you have 10 and 15 pound bumper plates?” I asked.

“We have 10 pound plates,” he said, and handed me little metal plates about 10 centimeters in diameter.

“If I use these little plates then I will have to get really close to the ground to pick up the bar when I am doing a clean,” I pointed out.

“Well you don’t have to do the full clean,” he responded. “Personally, I like to power clean the bar. You don’t really have to do a full lift. Even when doing deadlifts I don’t bring the bar all the way to the ground.” He then picked up that random 220 pound bar and showed me the sloppiest deadlift I have ever seen in my entire life complete with his knees pointing out in all kinds of crazy angles–except it wasn’t even a complete deadlift because the bar stopped just 10 inches short of the ground before he stood back up again.

Again. My face said you’ve got to be kidding me.

I told him about the importance of me having access to 10 and 15 pound bumper plates because the most I have ever cleaned is 78 pounds. He then told me about having 5 and 10 pound bumper plates in high school and joking that the 5 pound plates are so light that they would throw them around the gym making jokes. This made me feel very comfortable about working out in the gym that had none of the equipment I needed. Not.

We walked back to the front desk and he gave me a waiver to fill out if I wanted to workout with a free day-pass. I took the waiver and thanked him for his time.

An Olympic lift called the
The Olympic lift called the “clean”: lift a bar from the ground with a quick snapping of the hips, drop quickly underneath the bar into a deep squat (not captured well in this montage), then stand up. Easy, right?

I just. I didn’t. I had no idea.

I will obviously never train in that gym. I just don’t understand how a place could hire someone so lacking in knowledge to work there.

The sad thing is this is commonplace. The entire “fitness industrial complex” is filled with people lacking knowledge about equipment. Rather than learn about these weights that have been around hundreds of years, we use machines that do most of the work for us.

If you have read this far, thanks for giving me space to rant.

My hope for the future is to explain why I love the Olympic lifts and how I feel like they have helped my greatly in my life with brain cancer. This is not for everyone, but I hope everyone finds a hobby that makes them feel the way I do when I lift a bar.