Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Don't Bogart Those Weights My Friend ... *

* First the explanation of the title, for those of you who missed (or can't remember) the 60's. Or the 40s and 50's ...

Humphrey Bogart, the late tough-guy actor and star of several classic motion pictures, was a major cigarette smoker. Paid for it in lung cancer, which killed him. In some of his movies, he has a cigarette glued to a lip while he talks, fights, makes love, showers ... well, okay, I wax hyperbolic, but you get the idea. The coffin nail would just sit there and smoke, he wasn't even bothering to inhale.

In the 60's, when some amongst the hippie culture would sit and pass a reefer around for the communal getting-stoned evening, people would sometimes hold it without taking their toke. Probably because they were stoned and forgot, but the saying, Hey, Bogart, pass it! came to be. Little Feat wrote a song about it, or maybe it was the Dead or Country Joe. They all sang versions, and in it, turned the noun into a verb. 

Um. Anyway, that's what it means.

So today at the gym, which had all of six people there, including my wife and myself, there was this guy on the pec-deck machine. He was on it when we got there, and still on it when we left, and an irritant to the other five of us, if dirty looks are any indication.

Gym protocol generally says that if you are going to do multiple sets on a station, you look around now and then and if somebody is standing there waiting, or steps up and asks if they can jump in and do a set, you relinquish it, let them do a set, and then get back to it. 

Otherwise, you are an inconsiderate, selfish asshole. Good luck on finding a spotter when you start squats or benches.

Maybe this fellow was peripherally blind, that could be. Not totally, because he was watching himself in the mirror pretty good. 

I didn't push him. There are half a dozen ways to work your pectorals elsewhere, from the bench press to dumbbell flyes to a couple of bench press-style stations, freeweight and Smith Machine, and if none of those were there, you could do push-ups. (Though if I wanted to do push-ups, I'd stay home. I drive to the gym because they have stuff I don't have at home.) The pec-deck hits the muscles in a slightly different way, and you can get a good pump there without straining your back or triceps.

But it was not to be today. 

And the funny part -- and this seems to be the way of it -- was that the station hog perched there as if glued to the seat always seems to be the same guy: A pencil-neck who huffs and blows and grunts and makes a lot of noise as he strains to work a forty-pound stack, ogling himself in the mirror and then stretching between sets as if the amount of weight your ten-year-old could move was a steel block the size of a Volkswagen ...

It's sad, really. And irritating ...


Justin said...

Gym etiquette is a lost art. I imagine he was ignorant to it, if he's as inexperienced as you gather. That only gets him so much slack, though.

I often get annoyed at people doing terrible form at the gym. I'm by no means a champion -- or even religious -- lifter, but I know correct form.

So often, I see people doing "exercises" that aren't benefiting them in any way because of how poorly they're doing them.

Today, it was a guy on one of the chest press machines (with the foot pedal), who was doing rapid fire, 3-inch deep presses. It's the equivalent of doing pushups by just gyrating your arms a lot.

Part of me wants to chime in and help the dude out. The majority of me just lets him do it his way.

Ed said...

Steve - back in the day did you ever get to try the water machines at Nautilus Plus in Progress? The lifter could add water to the tanks to a specific level and it would slowly let the water out as you did your sets or the water could be kept at a specific level. They were a great workout when they worked but like a lot of machine/water interactions they ended up breaking down a lot and they got rid of them.

Steve Perry said...

Actually, we were members of Nautalis Plus when our kids were still at home. Went to the one by Washington Square. Realized it was cheaper to trick our our garage into a workout room, and did that -- hand a nice multistation machine, rower, stair stepper, mini-trampoline, bunch of free weights.

Nobody used it but me once we got it set up ...

I did try the water machines, but I didn't see that they were much of an improvement, given the cost and upkeep. They were out-of-service half the time, and how hard is it to re-position a pin for descending sets?