Personal Space

I usually walk into the gym expecting to be able to complete my workout without being impeded from doing so to any great degree. I have my space in which I’m working, you have yours, and everyone is going to get along fabulously provided we honor this understanding. If you’re a lifter who spends too much time on the internet or a lifter who pretends you don’t spend too much time on the internet, you may have heard the phrase “my bar is an extension of myself.” If you’re a lifter and you don’t think this way, you should. Once you’re moving the weight loaded on a barbell for your chosen lift during a given workout, thinking of it as just another appendage you have to quite literally keep in line helps you respect it as a member of your corporeal team to a greater degree.

This is why it is a pretty serious breach in gym etiquette to go anywhere near anyone’s bar as they are preparing for or executing a lift. To do so is comparable to passing roughly four inches from someone in a drug store in which there are, at most, two other shoppers, and those two are somewhere over in the incontinence section. You do not do it. Common sense and social cues tell you not to do it. So when I’m setting up to do, say, some Pendlay rows, and someone walks onto my platform and passes my bar by a few inches, I’m going to get irked. My last rowing workout involved a lot of taping so I could watch my form. Before one of my sets, my camera caught this:

I don’t care if you have never stepped foot in a gym and are a total newbie at it. If you see someone who looks like they’re lifting or looks like they’re about to do so, stay the fuck away from them. If you have entire aisles that are clear behind and on the sides of the platform that is located in the path you’d like to travel, USE THEM. It’s called goddamn personal space, and bad things happen when you get in someone’s share of it.

In other news, I managed to bench 115 lb for three reps yesterday. That weight is more than I weigh and a PR, and it suggests that my 1RM (one rep max, for those of you non-lifters) has increased. The third rep was ugly as hell, but I locked it out. I did this for my final set of 5 working bench sets for that day, too, so I imagine I made this effort with a bit of fatigue going on. Yeahhhh benching!


9 thoughts on “Personal Space

  1. Even a dumb father would know not to cross this woman! Seriously, I have, and I’ve paid! That guy needs a brain canal done right away.

    1. You’ve borne my anger well in the past, and I appreciate it. Sometimes it’s somewhat out of proportion to what instigates it, and I need to work on that (although I think I’m doing a better job in my old-er age). And Kyle agrees with your final comment.

  2. I was thinking about this sort of thing the other day. I tend to have a really bad habit of trying to keep out of the way in the weight room. I call this a bad habit because I feel like it’s internalised sexism in that the little lady should stand back and let the real men lift. I’ve been trying to be less like that of late, and especially last night when I found myself trying to lift at peak time with all the little undergrad brats back in classes and clogging up the campus. I was proud of myself for kicking a guy and his bench out of a squat rack when he was doing dumbbell presses. I need to claim the space I need a little more aggressively. I’m surprised the dumb guy walking in your space didn’t have his lungs boil from the glare you gave him.

    1. I have exactly the same issue–in the past, I feel like I’ve yielded to crowds of men in the weight room because of a gender-based deference/desire to not be disliked, particularly as the sole woman in there trying to avoid a tag of “she-bitch” or similar. I haven’t done that as much recently, partially because, honestly, pound-for-pound I’m stronger than many of them and it’s obvious. It makes me feel like I have absolutely as much right to be in whatever space I’m lifting in unimpeded as anyone else. That said, anyone lifting respectfully in a weight room has that right. But my increased time and skill-building in the gym has really dispossessed me of this internalized sexism of which you speak. You’re doing the right thing by just getting yourself out there and asserting your space. If they don’t like you for it, if they use that fantastic “b-word” or worse in their minds as you coldly tell them you’re using that bar, who cares. We don’t lift so other people will like us. We lift to get stronger.

  3. That happens to me occasionally and drives me insane! I feel your pain! Your face cracked me up though, it captured my exact feelings lol

    1. I admit that I laughed out loud when I reviewed this video after the workout. I don’t really know if I looked over towards the camera on purpose–like it was the only nearby ally–or if it was just coincidence. Sorry you suffer the total absent-mindedness of gym jerks too.

    1. At this point, most of the people in my gym don’t really bother me or my fellow powerlifting teammates too much, at least not during lifts. Sometimes while I’m standing around between sets I’ll have someone talk to me. I think and have ben told that I look mean enough to drive most of this off.

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