Don’t Look Up

My 17-year-old daughter has started going to the gym on a regular basis. I’m proud of her and try not to overwhelm her with details about proper mechanics.

She’s been complaining to me recently about guys—men really— approaching her at the gym. They try to start up a conversation with her using a bunch of unsolicited exercise advice. I told my daughter that someday she’ll miss being the center of attention, but of course today is not that day. I’m also seeing play out in real-time how young women receive relentless attention in public, and why they develop such strong social defenses at an early age.

In any event, what’s taking place at the gym doesn’t offend me as a father, it offends me as an athlete. Sure, these men are approaching a high school junior, but what’s really troublesome is that they’re giving out such crappy tips. Today, some guy told my daughter that when she’s doing squats, she should turn her head so that she’s looking up.

If you come across black and white photos of Arnold Schwarzenegger squatting, you’ll see him craning his neck like this when driving out of the bottom of squats. He knows now of course that this head position is bad for your spine, bad for maintaining the proper bar path, and bad because it moves the stress from your posterior chain to your knees. The proper head position is straight ahead if you’re squatting with the bar high on your traps, or looking at a spot on the floor if you’re squatting with low bar form.

I have to add that social media has greatly increased the sophistication of pick-up strategies in the 21st century. Men around the world are able to compare notes on what works and what doesn’t. As a result, I don’t know which is worse—that these guys continue to promote 1970s bodybuilding chic, or that they’re using 1970s conversation tactics that are creeping girls out.

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