We all know this person. They’re the one with the hoodie on and their headphones turned up to unhealthy levels. They probably ignore you, or throw you a dirty look every now and then. There’s no extraneous yelling, grunting, or smashing weights. They’re there to put in work, day in day out. Perhaps you’re just starting out, or have been at the gym game for a while. But it pretty clear this is their space and you’re invading it. You're not the only one who sees these characters as robots who are consuming endless supplies of chicken, rice and broccoli, working out 24 hours a day. It is so easy to categorize these individuals and maintain a safe distance. It is so easy to believe that your current routine will someday give you that killer body you've always dreamed of. Its easy to believe that, but aren't lies always the easiest to believe?
Here is some advice: don’t be intimidated, be respectful, don’t get in the way, don’t interrupt their sets, but most importantly talk to them (outside of the gym or when they complete an exercise). You’ll likely learn a thing or two.
Sometimes, it takes something as simple as a compliment. I met my training partner (of two years) simply by walking up to him and boldly proclaiming “man! you have great legs!” Yes, he was slightly startled that a small girl would approach and proclaim her admiration of his legs, but it caught his attention and opened him up allowing me to train with him and his group of more experienced lifters. That summer of training with this group was by far one of my best summers. I was fed a steady diet of advice and taught several techniques I never dreamed would be helpful. This advice ranged from things like: how to get the best angle for 1-arm tricep extensions, all the way to what kind of food is best for making gains (sushi was the meal of the summer). That summer I learned how a pull-up is correctly executed; I went from barely being able to do a pull-up with help (at the start), to being able to do 6 consecutively on my own at the end of the summer.
The combination of workout and nutrition advice naturally brought on gains on gains on gains! I started that summer from looking like the picture on the left. Days of taking this advice turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and months turned into years.
Its been two years and i am still learning from my training partner, and i still use the advice that my now closest friends from that summer gave me. Adherence to their advice, and the advice of others more knowledgeable in certain areas of the training world has brought me to a point where I feel that I can bestow knowledge upon someone else who may need help or guidance.
Advice + hard work + dedication + passion gave me a result I never dreamed possible.
Of course, this kind of thing only happens and works if you are willing to take the advice and use it even - if you don't like it one bit. A lot of people only want advice if it agrees with what they wanted to do anyway. This mentality will get you nowhere. If you are a slightly egotistical person, who thinks they know it all, or if you are someone who is shy and knows that they know nothing, I STRONGLY encourage you to jump out of your shell and learn something new from a source way more personable and relatable than the internet.
For those of you who take on the alpha male or alpha female role in the gym, there is so much I could say to you, but i will leave you with this one quote; “The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself”.
Johanna Devries I @hanna_soph
H.BSc Kinesiology I OPA bikini competitor
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