Phoning It In

I joined a new gym today, which is kind of like your first day at a new job. You’ve got to figure out the lay of the land, such as the location of the bathroom. As important, you’ve got to pick up quickly on the culture. For example, at some gyms, loud grunting will earn you a dirty look from gym staff. At others, making a scene while you lift is encouraged – even admired. Regardless, at all gyms, there’s one rule you have to respect: You must cooperate when someone asks you for a spot.

I’ve written previously about my objections to spotting – it interrupts the pacing of my workout; it offends my sensibilities to see someone using more weight than he can handle; on the bench press, it puts my low back in a terrible position. But most of all, if the guy benching 315+ suffers a total failure, I literally can’t help. There’s no way I can pull an anvil off some guy’s chest.

So during my workout today, the guy next to me throws three plates onto each side of his barbell. He looks my way and says, “Hey, can you help me out.” I started trudging over to my position behind his bench, but I noticed his strange expression. “Here,” he says, as he hands me his phone. “My buddy doesn’t believe I can bench this weight. I need you to video this lift for me.”

Finally, a spot where I can actually help.

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