Archives For commercial gym

One of the comments left on my last blog post entitled “10 Thing’s I Do Not Miss About Commercial Gyms” was from Craig Hirota, who suggested a great idea about writing my top 10 things that I DO miss about commercial here it is!

Some of these might not apply to you, but I’m sure there will be a few you could relate to:

1. Observing Others

Human females with a symmetrical face and a waist to hip ratio of about 0.7, wearing form fitting gym apparel, and performing just about any exercise correctly using a full range of motion are nice to look at by most, if not all heterosexual human males.

It can increase performance for some, but distracting for others.

2. Secretly Competing With Others

Treadmill Racing

I do something similar, in the weight room, lifting weights.

I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.

I like to be the strongest one in the gym. When I am not, I push myself to get stronger.

When I was living in Bangkok, there was a really big guy (well, big upper body at least) who used to partial bench more than I could bench press.

This motivated me to bench more weight than he did, but with full range of motion (that is, the bar touching my chest with every rep), which I did.

Training at home, I don’t have anyone around me to compete with. Although I do compete with myself, trying to break my previous personal records, it’s really not the same as out lifting someone you see on a regular basis at the gym.

3. People Watching You

I’m not an attention whore, but having eyeballs on me when I lift weights is motivating, especially during my main sets. This is also known as social facilitation.

There’s a sense that an audience is around me and I would have to perform.

And because people are watching (at least, I think they’re watching...), I don’t want to look like I added too much weight to the bar and bit off more than I could chew, so there’s an extra bit of motivation to complete that last rep and not fail.

4. Mirrors

I don’t have any mirrors in my basement home gym. At least not yet.

I’m not the type of guy who trains for aesthetic purposes, but I have to admit it’s pretty awesome seeing yourself in the mirror after getting a huge pump.

Often times I would look in the mirror and see some guy with a big traps, huge back and a bubble butt. I’d think, “Damn, this guy is huge!”

Then I’d realize that I was looking at a reflection of another mirror on an opposite wall...and it was me all along. Sweet.

5. Answering Questions

I’m not the most approachable guy at the gym. I tend to be focused on my training and tune everything else out.

However sometimes people would ask questions, and I don’t mind answering as long as people listen (and as long as they’re not interrupting my training or taking too much of my time in between sets like that Mr. Million Questions guy who seems to manifest himself in every gym).

It’s rewarding to see that I helped make an impact on other people’s training, strength, and overall health.

6. Non-Verbally Inspiring People

At least in my past experience, sometimes I don’t have to say anything to inspire others in their training.

For instance, when I used to go to a gym in Bangkok, there would be a group of kids (either fresh out of high school or just starting university) who I knew watched me while I trained. After a few days, I would see them attempt the same thing, albeit a bastardized version of what I was doing. For example, my squat in the squat rack became their squat in the StarTrack Maxrack (a 3D Smith machine).

I even saw that they purchased the same equipment as me. I have the Schiek weight lifting straps that I use for deadlifts. One day, I saw the group of kids with the same straps using them for incline dumbbell bench presses and on the EZ-bar on the preacher curl bench.

I also carry around a belt at the gym. I use it during my main sets (and sometimes during my heavier warm-ups) during squat, deadlift and overhead press. After some time, I saw this same group of kids carry belts with them too and wore it for ALL lifts. But mainly the ones where you sit or lay down on a bench.

7. Personal Trainers with an Area of Expertise

At Fitness First Rama 3 in Bangkok, there were at least 2 former competitive Muay Thai boxers.

When I found out about this, I signed up for a few weeks of personal training sessions with one of the trainers and began my Muay Thai training (ironically, in comforts of an air conditioned commercial gym).

His English wasn’t that great, but through body language, he could communicate what I needed to do and what I was doing wrong.

Hitting the Thai pads with an experienced pad holder and former fighter sure beats any other conditioning exercise I’ve ever tried. And on top of that, he’s given me tips on improving my punches, kicks, knees and elbows.

There’s nothing like getting a killer workout while sharpening your skills under the guidance of someone who has been fighting in the ring even since he was a kid (children competing in full contact Muay Thai is normal in Thailand).

8. Rubber Coated Olympic Plates with Grips

I’m talking about something like this:


Simply put, those rubber coated Olympic plates with built-in grips are easier to work with compared to steel Olympic plates with a bevelled edge.

It’s easier to carry around, doesn’t make that clanging noise when the plates hit each other, and are less vulnerable to rust.

Perhaps I’ll upgrade my weights in the future.

9. Super Expensive Specialized Machines

I’m not a big fan of exercise machines, especially those that are designed to replace their free weight counterpart.

But there are some machines I miss, and although I could buy them myself, they would cost an arm and a leg.

The machine I miss the most is the Freemotion “functional trainer” machine, pictured below:


Now, why would I miss this somewhat gimmicky looking machine?

It’s because the adjustable height of the pulley makes it easy to train my neck. What I do is attach my Ironmind neck harness to the machine, and adjust the pulley at the lowest level to do neck extensions, and then adjust the pulley to around eye level to do neck flexion and side flexion.

I’ve tried attaching a plate to neck harness and perform neck exercises. It works fine for neck extensions, but it doesn’t work as well when I’m trying to train the front and sides of my neck.

I would also use the same machine for face pulls.

The other machine I miss, and have only seen it in one gym (Popeye’s, which is now World’s Gym in Kitchener, Ontario), is the 4-way neck machine. These machines don’t come cheap either.


10. Compliments

Getting compliments from others feels good.

It’s a small reward for the time, money and energy I’ve invested in the pursuit of strength.

There’s nothing like a “YOU’RE A MONSTER!” from someone after nearly crushing myself with 400lbs+ on my back.

Feels Good Man

Feels good man!


Have you switched from a commercial gym and started training at home?

If so, what do you miss from training at the last gym you were a member of?

Leave your comments below 🙂

Over the course of my life, I have been a member of numerous commercial gyms in Canada and Thailand.

But ever since December 2011, I have put together a home gym in my basement and have been training at home ever since.

Here are a few things that I don’t miss about commercial gyms:

1. Personal Trainers Who Don’t Know What They’re Doing

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a personal trainer do upright rows at the same time their client is performing bench presses with the same bar.

Or the number of times I’ve seen trainers without a training log for their clients.

Or the number of times I’ve heard giving out the wrong advice or exercise instruction.

Don’t take this the wrong way, not all personal trainers don’t know what they’re doing, but it seems like (at least in my experience) there are more crappy trainers than good ones.

2. Commuting

I’ve always thought of commuting as a waste of time. The time spent getting to the gym and back can take as long (or longer) that the workout itself!

Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if possible, I’ll try to set up a situation for myself where getting from point A to B is minimal.

For the last 2 clubs I was a member of, I was fortunate to live close enough to be able to walk to the gym. It only took around 15 minutes each way, but that’s an extra 30 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. Multiply that by the number of times I go to the gym (3-5) per week, the number of weeks in a month, the number of months in a year, etc. and it adds up.

3. Waiting

Normally, the squat rack is never in use. However there are times when I need to use a bench. And more often than not, the people doing bench press aren’t even doing half-range of motion!

There are also people socialize in between sets, and/or use their phones while sitting on the exercise equipment. Often times they would spend more time on their phones texting and chatting than actually working out.

4. Crappy Exercise Equipment

adductor machine

This machine trains the "NO" muscles

Yes-No machines, Smith machines, elliptical trainers, & Nautilus circuit machines and countless others seem to get the most use in a gym serving the general public. They’re also the equipment that have the least impact on “getting toned”, “getting cut” and “losing weight”.

(I have to admit, I did use the Smith machine as an adjustable height pull up bar when the chin up area was in use).

5. Crappy Workout Music

I would not have known about Justin Beiber, Kate Perry or Lady Gaga if it wasn’t for those Les Mills group fitness classes. I bet there’s someone out there who loves to lift heavy weights to “Somebody to Love”, but it’s not my cup of tea.

At home, I tune into Digitally Imported and listen to either Trance or Goa-Psy Trance, which is probably considered crappy music to some people.

The choice of music to listen to while training is subjective, but since I’m training in my home gym, I can listen to whatever “crappy” music I want.

One man’s crappy music is another man’s ear candy.

6. People Asking A Million Questions In Between Sets

Don’t get me wrong, I like to help people with their training and answer their questions to the best of my ability. But sometimes people ask too many questions at the wrong time (in between sets), and take up a lot of time with their interrogation.

7. Unhygienic People

I’ve seen people picking their noses in between their sets, people who don’t wash their hands after they use the rest rooms, and others cough or sneezing into their hands before they grasp the barbell.


8. Dealing With People Who Don’t Put Away Weights


Why can’t some people put away the weights?

It’s just common courtesy to put away those 35lbs dumbbells and put away the plates after doing quarter squats on the smith machine.

9. People Who Drop Puny Weights On The Floor

I’m not sure what the deal is with people who drop dumbbells on the floor after they’re finished the set. I’m talking about people who are dumbbell bench pressing 50lbs (total) for 12+ reps with little effort, and then dropping it.

No matter how loud the sound of dumbbells dropping make, it won’t make you look any manlier!

In my opinion, the weight shouldn’t be dropped on the floor unless it is unsafe or impossible to put it down in a controlled manner. Or if they’re lifting with bumper plates.

10. Initiation Fees, Recurring Membership Fees, Hold Fees and Cancellation Fees

‘nuff said.

I experimented with power cleaning the bar for over head press and front squats this week.

I felt way more explosive doing the press & front squat AFTER I cleaned the bar as opposed to lifting it off the rack. It actually felt a lot easier. And for a couple of days, my traps were sore as hell.

I got this idea from Zach Even-Esh's blog. He wrote:

I remember when I trained at Diamond Gym & began power cleaning the bar from the ground before every set of military presses and my back, traps, shoulders and arms got seriously THICK in a very short time period.

That sound's like a pretty damn good idea! It also seems like a manlier way to lift weights.

Cleaning the Bar for the Front Squat


front squat

Elbows Pointed Forward

For the front squat, getting the bar in position is the same as a regular power clean. ie. the bar will be racked on your front deltoids with your elbows raised & pointed forward.

Cleaning the Bar for the Over Head Press

Cleaning the bar to press

Elbows Pointed Down

Cleaning the bar for the over head press is different compared to cleaning the bar for the front squat (at least for me). My press my grip is wider than I normally use for power cleans, so I needed to clean the bar with a wider grip.

Also, because I'm pressing it up, I don't rack with my elbows up. I rack it with my elbows down, and I'm in a position where I'm ready to press the bar over my head.

It looks something like this (note this is not me; it's some strong dude from Singapore):

I won't be cleaning the bar for overhead presses during intensity days (where I try to hit a 1,2 or 3 rep max). But for volume (5x5) & recover days (3x5) I will.

Anyways, enough about cleaning and check out these links:

Keep lifting, keep progressing & have a great weekend!