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Gym Intimidation: Four Things To Remember When Getting Started in The Free Weight Area

As a beginner, there was always one particular region of the gym that would intimidate me. I first seriously started working out during the spring semester of my freshman year of college. I remember walking into the gym and feeling the air conditioning create goose bumps on my skin. I swiped my student card and I was in the gym. After swiping in, I would walk over to my right and there it was, the mystical gym.

As gym rookie, I would either head straight to the cardio equipment or towards the machines. Those areas were safe in my mind. The machines made me believe I could lift more weights. I couldn’t be seen struggling, I had an image to maintain right! The ladies and guys would be watching me so I didn’t want to look like a fool. Little did I know that by avoiding the most important section of that gym, I looked even more foolish.

Every gym seems to have the same set up. Within the gym you’ll find a space filled with rows of dumbbells. The dumbbells range in sizes from two pounds all the way up to 100 pounds. In addition to the dumbbells you will see individual benches. In front of the racks and benches you normally have some sort of mirror. This area is the free weight section. If serious about changing your body, this should become one of your mainstays.

Free Weights Are Awesome

This blog is still fairly new, so let me clearly stat something I truly believe. If you want to be in the best shape you could possibly be. Whether that means you want to lose twenty pounds or gain ten pounds of muscle. Whether you want to increase your sprint time in the 50 meter sprint or perfect your tennis backhand, there’s one thing that they all share in common. You need to lift weights!!

Doing some sort of resistance exercise is the fastest way to get to those holy grails of physical achievements. All bodies need to have some type of functioning muscle on them. Even in weight loss, you are trying to maintain the muscle while losing fat. What’s the easiest way to do that? Lifting weights!

I’m sure you know that lifting weights is good for you but there’s a difference between thinking about lifting weights versus going to the gym and actually doing it. I bet your gym has that magical section I was talking about but the problem is you see nothing but big guys with muscles groaning and moaning.

When I was a young rookie, that was very intimidating. I eventual stop being scared and started to spend more time in this area. Here’s how you can get over that intimidation:

We All Start Somewhere

Just remember that we all have to start somewhere. Those bodies that may be intimidating you have taken years of work to get like that. If you’re young, some kids have genetics that bless them with fit bodies. It’s a combo of genetics, eating and moving. If you work hard, you’ll get there too!

All it takes is one day at time. Every one of those bodies was weak at one point. Remember that as you pick up those weights. Don’t’ be so hurry to lift heavier weights then you really can. Embrace the process.   We all got to start from the bottom!

They’re Not All Judging You

There’s nothing like standing in front of a mirror trying to perform your workout when all of a sudden you feel eyes gazing at you. “Oh my gosh! They’re judging me!!” would be your first thought. Or if you’re a woman “are they….yup, they’re checking me out!” You start to panic and lose focus on your workout.

Don’t be so quick to think that people are judging you right away. You just have to remember that people are curious by nature. You could be doing an exercise those individuals have never seen before. It’s natural to look at something new. Or your shirt could be so colorful it captures people’s attention. Majority of the time people are not judging you! It’s a small space with a mirror, so eyes are going to cross each other at some point.

They’re Not All Staring At You

So as a handsome male, I know I’m bound to get some eyes looking this way. What can I say! But for women, I know that the stares can lead to intimidation. It’s nothing worse than being stared out consistently while you are working out. Here you are trying to do a routine and some guys won’t stop eyeballing you.

If you are a woman and that happens a lot, don’t let it detour you from the free weight area. You deserve to be there like everyone else. Believe it or not, but sometimes guys are not staring at you in a sexual way. The reason for the looking is due to the fact that most women tend to shy away from this area.

Congratulations! You are a trailblazer at your gym and it’s taking the guys by surprise. Take it as such and keep it up!

Everyone Gets Embarrassed

If you start to feel that the stares are more than curiosity, that’s when you should simply ask them “Hey, can I help you with something because I see you keep looking at me?” That will embarrass most guys if you call them out on their fantasy stares. Most guys think they are too slick with their eye drifting. Calling him out on it will catch him off guard!

If they do respond with a smart chauvinistic reply, then you don’t have to feel you need a witty reply. Just say, “OK, I was curious” and move on. It may now be time to simply talk to the gym’s manager. Remember you pay a fee to belong to this gym just like that guy. You pay for the right to be safe, so get your money’s worth!

What are some factors in the free weight area that intimidate you? Let me know below!

5 Embarrassing Behavior Traits about Mike: Middle School Years

Today I will continue with the theme from a previous blog, 11 Embarrassing Behavior Traits about Mike: Elementary School Years.   I decided to go back in time and share some more traits I held as a kid.

CHUBBY

What happens when you eat lots of junk food but never exercise? You’re most likely going to start packing on weight.  That’s exactly what happened to me between fifth and sixth grade.

In sixth grade, one teacher told me that I reminded her of a previous student. I never realized just what my body truly physically looked like up until that point.  No disrespect to the other kid, but it was a clear sign that I was no longer skinny Mike.

I have a brother who is four years older than me.  When he went through his middle school years, he started to put on weight.  From that moment on in his life, he’s always been built like a football offensive linemen.

I thought that I was destined to share the same fate.  I started to hear the fat jokes about me.  I had one nickname from my brother and dad called Bubba.  Not sure where it came from exactly, but during these years that name just reminded me of a guy who’s overweight.

COACH POTATO

I always watched TV over the years but it seemed to become my life during these years.  Cartoons, video games and sitcoms were my binge drugs of choice.  I would easily average four to six hours of watching TV a day.

My true best friend was the TV.  It would take me to worlds where I could get lost in my imagination.  It taught me right from wrong with it’s public service announcements.  The only time it abandoned me was when I turned it off.

QUIET

Given the awkward years of puberty, I became quieter during middle school.  I can recall classes in which I only had to speak once the entire school year!

If kids kept calling me quiet, I just kept up that persona around that individual.  When I was at school, I didn’t care for being Mr. Popular.

LIMITED FRIENDS

During my middle school years, my family moved after sixth grade.  When that move happened, I had to start making friends all over again due to a new school and neighborhood.  It completely deflated me at that time.

I dreaded making new friends only to lose them again.  It became pointless in my young mind.  I did end up making some good friends at my new school.  I became part of a five kid clique who all lived in different neighborhoods. We had almost all the same classes so that’s how we became tight.

In my own neighborhood, I did not try to make friends.  The only kids I hung out with in my neighborhood were the kids that my grandma would babysit.

EMBARRASSED EASILY

Being quiet, chubby with only a handful of friends made my confidence low.  In the elementary article, I mentioned how lucky I was.  During these years, I felt that karma was coming back around and that’s why I wasn’t as great as I use to be.

Kids become crueler as they approach the teenage years. You start seeing kids taking a mob mentality.  I would shy away from big groups and not try to be known at school to avoid such mobs.


 

Well there you have five traits from middle school. It’s amazing how much I changed from elementary to middle school. Puberty sucks right!  Share your experiences with me below.

11 Embarrassing Behavior Traits about Mike: Elementary School Years

You know that old saying, you don’t know where you are going unless you know where you been?  In order for you to be comfortable with me, I want to share some of my past.  The next couple of posts will reveal some information from my past.

First up, let’s talk my elementary school years.  Age 6-11.  Here’s some cool and embarrassing facts about me:

SKINNY

I was really thin as a child.  It was combination of genetics and being somewhat active.

LUCKY

I felt like the X-Men character Longshot because EVERYTHING went my way. Especially at school

  • Raffle Cake Walk: I would win
  • Field Day races: I would win
  • School Fund Raising Event: I would win
  • Kickball: Undefeated in elementary!

HANDSOME

Despite the big ears and widows peak, the young ladies loved the kid!

CRUSH MAGNETIC

Every year there would be a new girl that was obsessed with me. From Kindegarten to 1st, a girl in my neighborhood would give me a lollipop every time we played. In third grade, I had a classmate stalk and follow me all the way home…..That one was a little bit creepy

PROTECTOR

I use to beat up kids that were bullies. I was really really good at fighting. I watched wresting a lot as a kid and came up with my own finisher move. It was called the Mumbo Jumbo (Based off a villain from a cartoon called SilverHawks). Many bullies feel victim to it!

Mumbo Jumbo from SilverHawks cartoon show
The Inspiration For Many Bully Beatdowns

 

What’s funny is the fact that teachers always had me as their ideal behavioral student.   I would use that to my advantage. If a kid bullied another kid consistently, I would beat the bully up when nobody was around.

Sometimes the bully would threaten to tell. I would simply say: “Who’s the teacher/principal going to believe, you the troublemaker or ME?”

LIMITED VIEW OF THE WORLD

To me there were only two states in the US, Virginia and Ohio. Virginia felt like another country to me whereas Ohio was my home.

Those feelings came from being born in Cincinnati, Ohio and moving to Virginia at age six. A aunt moved to Virginia from Germany, so my mind always treated Virginia as this foreign country as a child.

QUIET

Family and friends that know me from childhood all say the same thing…..Mike was so quiet!

HYPER

Being quiet throughout the school year bottled up inside and exploded during the summer. My Aunt Pam and cousins got to see the hyper goofy Mike often during summers in Cincinnati.   Give me ten minutes after a good dinner, and you were bound to see this side of me in the summer.

HUNG OUT WITH THE OLDER KIDS

I hung out with kids that were older than me majority of the time. I have a brother that’s four years older than me, plus an older cousin that I lived with during this period. I use to hang out with them and their friends more than my own age group.

THE SOCIAL EXPLORER

From age six to eight, I was active in my neighborhood. I would bike ride, walk, and play neighborhood group games.  Oh how I miss the neighborhood tag games, water gun fights, hide and seek…..Do kids still do that stuff anymore?

THE INTROVERT NON-EXPLORER

From nine to eleven, I wasn’t as active. My family moved to a different neighborhood for the third time since moving to Virginia.

I just didn’t have the drive to make new friends in the neighborhood. Only time I went past my block was when I walked to school.

Now that I’ve shared my past, what did you do as a kid?

How To Effectively Handle Back Pain From A (Un)Usual Suspect

The Date….Last Tuesday

The Time…7:00

The Place…. The Moore’s Family Room.

<Plaintiff aka Mike>:  It was on this date, that the most horrific thing that I could imagine happened.  It started out like any other evening.  My wife and I sat at the kitchen table eating dinner.  We were having good conversation while eating.  The glorious meal consisted of spaghetti made with turkey and spaghetti squash.  Once done eating, we decided to partake in The Daily Show and Nightly Show for amusement.

I walked over towards the suspect in a friendly matter.  If I was to know how this night would change my life for the worse, I would have went over towards the suspect’s brother instead.

Everything seemed normal while my wife, the suspect and I watched TV.  The suspect behaved like he normally does.  About one hour later as I got ready for bed, that’s when I realized the suspect had silently attacked me!

Over the past two months, my wife and I started to realize that the suspect was getting pushy.  I could never get comfortable around him anymore.  It was like he was purposely trying to keep me from hanging out with him.  I helped clean him up one day, and thought we were on good terms again.  But after this particular night, I’m sure the suspect was plotting against me this entire time!

HOW DARE YOU!!!!

<Judge>: Sir, lower your voice!!!  There will be no disrespect in this court of law! Is that all you have to say

<Plantiff>: No your honor.  The next day I woke up remembering how the suspect looked at me with grin as I walked away from the family room that night.  I just knew he was up to something.   I proceeded to do my normal morning ritual of going to the gym.  Once at the gym I performed my first workout of the day, the squat.  After completing three sets of ten reps, I attempted a fourth and stalled at four reps. I ensued to un-rack the squat bar, and upon bending over…

THAT’S WHEN I REALIZED WHAT THE SUSPECT WAS PLOTTING THE NIGHT BEFORE!!!  HE PURPOSELY HURT MY LOWER BACK!

It was so sore, that I had to cut my workout short. So bad, that I even had to skip two workout days to make sure it would not get worse. He is to blame! He’s just jealous of me!

<Suspect>: HAHAHA whatever chump!

<Judge>:   QUIET! We have heard enough from the Plaintiff, I will now hear from the Defendant

<Suspect>: Yo, I don’t know what that dude’s problem is.  Man, I see it like this.  I’ve been hanging out with that family for three years.  Not once did I every get a “how was your day” or “thank you”.  It was a one sided friendship.  Now as the years have went on, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not as strong as I use to be.  I have been getting a lil bit lumpy these past few months.

On that particular night, the Plaintiff just randomly jumped on me!  How disrespectful!  No gentle handshake, or hug.  Nope, just straight up jumped on me.  So what would you do if someone jumped on you?

You gonna squirm a lil bit man!  So the plaintiff and me did go back and forth for awhile, I did see him squirm.  Finally, I decided to chill and just let him be.

He was the one that decided to be in a awkward angle while he watched TV.  As he left the room, I did smile…..smiling that he left me alone with his wife!!!

<Plaintiff>: You summa of a……

<Suspect>: HAHAHAH

<Judge>: ENOUGH!!!! {bang bang bang}……I have heard enough. I will let the jury of your peers decide who is to blame for the Plaintiff’s back injury.   Is it the Plaintiff or the Defendant???

—————————————————————————————————————————————-

The above was just a funny way of explaining what happened to me.  In case you haven’t figured it out, the suspect was a couch!

<insert dramatic music>

We all have done that one stupid thing that gets us hurt.  I had been on a 2015 hot streak of having absolutely no injuries. With all the running, deadlifting, squatting, etc.  I had been injury free!

All of a sudden, a old beat up couch decided to end my streak.  I am convinced that the couch is the reason for my back pain. Prior to that workout day, their had been days when I had walked away from that couch sore, but not too bad.  It was just something special about last Tuesday night that made the couch get it’s revenge!

So what should we do when we get injured?  Here are some tips:

 REST AND LET IT HEAL

The smartest thing to do is to let it heal.  A few days off from the gym won’t kill you.  Some times, injuries can be our body’s way of saying “You’re doing too much girlfriend!”.

If you are just starting off, you might have pushed yourself too hard.  If you’re 7+ years experienced, that injury may be the result of years of improper technique.

Relax, getting hurt is going to happen! We just do our best to not let it happen.  If you choose to live a healthy lifestyle, it’s just one of the breaks.  Even in your outside the gym life, you get injured every now and than.  We’re all human.

KNOW THE CAUSE

Did you squat too much weight?  Did you land awkwardly while jump roping?  Did you pick your daughter up to fast?

Figure out the root cause of that pain. Knowing the cause leads to you properly finding a solution for it.  If it was related towards weightlifting, maybe you need to take a few pounds off.  Be smart and know that cause.

WORK AROUND IT

In my case I hurt my back.  After a couple days of rest, I decided to give it a test run.  Given I knew it was in my lower back, I first decided to attempt squats but with half the weight.  If it had been unbearable, I would know to skip it for this day.  In my case, I was able to squat effectively, but I still wanted to be safe.  So I did my normal number of sets/reps.  I just intelligently used less weight for safety.  I had the same great sweat producing squat session, but without the extra back pain.

 

FIND AN ALTERNATIVE

Sometimes that injury may just be in a place that it’s best to avoid altogether. No worry, you still have your other body parts to work out. Too often we have this All or None mentality.

One of the main focal points of my workout is the squat.   If my lower back were bad enough where I could not have squatted down properly, I would have just swapped the movement.  That one movement does not make or break my workout.

It’s ok! I would just find another leg movement that I could do safely and continue with the rest of my workout.  No need to skip an entire day if all my other body parts can do isolation workouts just fine.

If I could not lift weights all together, what would stop me from using this week to just go on walks?   My back feels fine walking.  Just find that alternative solution that’s going to help you move forward not backward!

LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY

Sometimes we just got to put our ego to the side.  When it comes towards weightlifting, weight loss or just being healthy in general, think about the bigger picture.   There’s no shame in taking one gym session off to properly heal.

Remember that you’re in this for the LONG HAUL. We’re talking a awesome body for months/years/decades!!! Just one workout missed due to injury is not going to hurt you.

But you know what will hurt you? Attempting to go all out in a workout when you have a legit injury. That “man up” mentality could result you in not being able to work out for months!

So think about that. Skipping one session vs. Two+ months of non-activity! Who’s going to get that dream body faster!

CONCLUSION

Let’s all be safe on our own journey’s. If an injury happens, just follow my advice. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Now I’m on my way back to court…..I got some beef to settle with that couch!!!

The Crusher of Dreams…Tales from The Locker Room!

Remember your first years in middle school, when you had to change your clothes in public.  Walking into that locker room.  You saw those locker rooms in numerous movies, but it’s nothing like stopping by for the first time in real life.  Watching this on TV was not nearly as nerve-wracking as this solo adventure.  Remember your first time?

You walk in with your brand new gym clothes neatly folder.  You were assigned a locker combination so you go searching for your locker number.  As you look around the room you notice that this place has sinks, toilets and…..showers?!  Hold on……Is it mandotary that we take showers?  All of a sudden you feel your heart pounding.  Showers!…..what’s the point of washing up in class.  We didn’t have to do that in elementary school.  What makes this place so different?

You start to notice other individuals progressing towards lockers near you.  You’re no longer the only kid in your row!  Your heart starts to pound just a little bit faster.  All of a sudden you hear the gym teacher yell out “You have five minutes to get dressed and be out ready for class!!  Hurry it up!!!”.   Why is that teacher telling me to hurry up?  Are they watching me!?

You start to undress and stare straight ahead.  You don’t want anybody to think you are staring at them because YOU don’t want people staring at you!  You’re so use to getting dressed by your self in privacy.  Well maybe in front of your brother or sister, but not this many strangers.  Not in front of Joey or Joanna who you’ve had classes with every since you were six.  This definitely wasn’t the same thing as nap time together!

Looking back at that scenario, could you envision the stress and panic?  Could you remember your own “first time” in a gym.  No matter your age, it always seems that we all have had some sort of nervousness about being in a locker room.  It’s just something about it that scares the bejesus out of the majority of folks.  It all comes down to being insecure with our bodies.  When you’re a young teenager going through puberty there’s nothing worse then your peers knowing about the changes to your body.  We are terrified about being judged for being fat, skinny, hairy, short, tall, etc.

That fear doesn’t stop in that middle school locker room.  It carries over to us as we become grown adults.  When you go to the locker room at your local gym, how many folks still have flashbacks to that middle school mentality?  How many still try to go to the back of the locker room to hide from being seen?

Don’t be ashamed, the majority of all us still do that!  Even the person with that perfect chiseled body, still thinks badly about their own bodies and is scared of others opinions.  YES, that person that you envy!  That person that seems to be straight out of the latest Dwayne Johnson action movie.   He/She thinks exactly like you.

I wrote this so that next time you enter that locker room, I want you to remember that you’re not alone.  Most of us had a bad initial locker room experience.  Without even knowing it, it affects how most of us view working out or just going to the gym in general.  We shouldn’t let something so trivial in our past dictate how we feel now.

Next time you enter your gym and you see a 80+ year old man/lady proudly walking around buck naked, give them a silent MicVinny salute of approval.  If they’re not afraid of judgement why should YOU!