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Yes, Runners and Gym Rats Can Make Nice

Posted Dec 20 2009 2:42pm
Ever been in a situation where you know you're in trouble and you're not quite sure what you're going to do to get out of the situation? Not a great feeling, huh? I had such an experience this past Friday at the gym.

I've been working on functional resistance training to increase leg-strength and Friday I was on the leg press machine. I was quite impressed with my puny-self pressing 230lbs. All was going really well. I could feel my glutes, hamstrings, and quads expanding, and building muscle as I was pumping that iron (okay it was all in my head, but my backside was burning). All was fine until after repetition #10 when I was trying to engage the safety in order to stop the weights and allow me to take a rest before the next set.

Problem was, the safety would not engage. Try as I might, I could not get the safety to work. Earlier that 230lbs felt really good, but now that same 230lbs felt like 460lbs! As my life was flashing before my eyes, I was trying to figure out a way to get out of this predicament that didn't involve me becoming a flattened pancake.

Luckily right behind me, an "Arnold clone" was doing back squats on the Smith Machine. So, in the deepest voice I could muster, I said, "Hey man, would you mind helping me a second?" Evidently he had been watching me squirm in this predicament and said, "Yes" with a little chuckle in his voice.

Using his hands, he pushed up on the weights to give my legs a break while I continued to jimmy the safety trying to get it to engage. Still no luck. By this time, I was the talk of the gym. Two more Arnold clones came over to see what was going on. Now two guys were holding the weights up while a third tried to engage the safety. Fortunately (saving me some pride) he too could not get it to lock in place.

Then one of the hulks said, "Just lower it." I'm thinking, "What?!!!" So down the weights go and so do my legs, my knees getting closer and closer to my eyeballs. Wishbone was coming to mind. Then finally, "click!" The bar stopped. Unbeknownst to me, there's a backup safety, so if the handheld safety doesn't latch or comes unlatched, you won't get squished.

So, out I scrambled as quickly as possible. Upon further examination, we discovered that the safety was hanging and was in fact not working properly. I was so glad that it wasn't just due to my ineptness.

The one good thing that came from this adventure was I actually communicated with the "Big Boys" in the gym. It's always been "Us" and "Them." The "Haves" and the "Have-nots." Myself being one of the latter. Well on Friday, we found some common ground. Even though I was about a fourth of their size, I seemed to impress them (just a tad) with my knowledge of resistance training. And I realized that these guys (even though they're huge) are just regular Joe's. When I told them I had run 10 marathons, that gained a little respect too. Each of us had strengths, just in different areas.

Will this fiasco keep me from working out in the gym? Heck no. I may be checking the safety on the equipment before climbing in, but it won't deter me from working out. Plus now I don't feel so intimidated by the Big Boys.
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