Building High-Performance Muscle™

ATOMIC DOG
Where it Rains Doughnuts and Boobs


I work out in a strange little gym. Even though I've been a member for over ten years, I can't even tell you the name of the place. It's not necessarily that I'm oblivious to my surroundings; it's just that the place has changed names a lot during that time and I've failed to keep up.

I do, however, seem to remember the word "Fitness" being in the name, but I could be confusing it with the Italian truffle restaurant down the street named Fungili.

It's located in this toney little seaside burb where every third person, it seems, is a big corporate muckity-muck, retired actor, or generic celebrity.

Slick ex-Gov Mitt Romney has a house here, as does Cindy McCain. So does actor Cliff "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" Robertson and sports announcer Dick Enberg. Motivational guru Anthony Robbins used to live here, too, until he motivated his wife to boot him out of the house.

Many of these rich folk work out at my gym. Cindy Crawford lugs her mole through an aerobics class every once in a while, and Deepak Chopra used to be a member.  (He did a lot of leg presses, but he didn't really use his legs, instead preferring to attempt to move the platform through meditation and self-awareness.)

A lot of pro athletes work out there occasionally, too. No really big names, but second-tier stars like Robert Lange of the Montreal Canadians, Ryan Klesko*, formerly of the San Francisco Giants, pitcher Akinori Otsuka of the Texas Rangers, and ex-New York Giant Phil McConkey.

The San Diego Charger Cheerleaders have some sort of contract with the gym and they occasionally pom-pom through the place. Mike Carey, the first black Super Bowl referee in NFL history, works out there, too.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the "PB Millionaire." He's also a member. Check out this tool when you get a chance.

I train in the mornings, usually around 9 or 10, which is Prime Time for pampered housewives, many of whom have one task in life: to keep their bodies toned so their rich hubbies are slightly less likely to bone their secretaries in the ass while they're taking dictation.

Most of what the housewives do is "core" work. Most never really look any better, even after months of training, except for the sad fact that their cores get much more developed and much larger, making them look like finely coiffed and jewel-bedecked fire hydrants in sports bras, which is probably not the look they were after.

The other day the gym conducted a "Member Appreciation Day," which consisted of hiring a DJ to spin 70's tunes at ear-splitting volume while members tried to work out. I'm sure that a bowling-alley style Disco Night is just around the corner and that right now, someone is ordering up leg warmers for the clients and buying up fluorescent paint and black-light fixtures so the Swiss balls will light up all groovy like.

By now, you gotta' be asking yourself why I work out at this foo-foo gym. It's simple, really. It's really close to my house and they've got two power racks that don't get used much. I also like a few of the trainers, who, because of client demands, are largely unwilling accomplices to all this aforementioned core training.

As you might guess, most of the gym members are largely ignorant of the customs of the gym world. Any group of humans that congregate for a shared purpose or activity develops a type of social etiquette. Unfortunately, in a gym like this, where many of the members are transient, this etiquette never gels. Newbies don't learn the customs and this lack of gym etiquette perpetuates itself as newbies beget more newbie's.

It's with this in mind that I offer my crash course in foo-foo gym etiquette, which should serve as a companion piece to my first article on the subject where I wrote about many of the usual etiquette breaches like using a cell phone in-between sets and curling in the squat rack.

While this second batch of breaches might be less commonly seen or experienced, you should do your best to keep it that way by printing this out and slapping it on the locker room wall.


Don't Hair-Dry Your Balls.

Why can't I walk into the locker room of my gym without being greeted by the sight of some old bastard, one foot on top of the counter, crotch spread wide like a model in a Hustler photo shoot, using a portable hair dryer on his balls? It's ghastly. Not only that, it makes the room smell like the cheddar-cheese covered popcorn my Nana used to make on her old potbelly stove and it makes me feel nostalgic and sad. 

Use a towel on your nads, or maybe do a little manscaping, for Chrissake. Less hair would allow you to dry faster, possibly saving others from having that terrible vision loaded forever onto their mental hard drive.

Besides, on most of you old guys, your unkempt equipment looks like gray and dying willow trees...except for that albino geezer; yours looks like you've got a tiny naked Ann Coulter for a penis.


Don't Use the Power Rack for Your Stretchie Cord.

For the love of God, don't tie your $4.99 K-Mart Sporting Goods' Department stretchie cord with built-in handle to the power rack so you can "work" your rotator cuff, thereby monopolizing the darn-near-only serious piece of equipment in the entire gym.

That's like using your company's only super computer to play Lee Trevino's "Fighting Golf" game when the guy who wants to do climate change analyses has to wait.

It just...ain't...right.


Don't Wear Cut-Off Sleeves.

You don't have a single piece of clothing that has sleeves. Sure your arms are decent; they're your one good body part, but you're like those semi-anorexic chicks who get huge implants and won't wear anything short of an iron lung that isn't so tight a blind man can simply trace his fingers across the front of your shirt and read the Braille message formed by the Montgomery tubercles on your areolas which, predictably enough, read, "My daddy abused me so I have an eating disorder which led to a distorted body image and compelled me to buy obscenely large implants."

In other words, it reeks of insecurity.

But I guess that's not really a matter of etiquette, is it? More of a pet peeve, I suppose. What is a matter of etiquette, though, is middle-aged and old bastards who have no arm development at all and wear cut-off sleeves or white, ribbed, yellow stained, moldy tank tops that you usually see old Italian guys wearing on hot summer Sunday afternoons as they sit on their stoops and reminisce about the Brooklyn Dodgers.

These guys are usually sporting so much hair on their biceps, triceps, and semi-exposed back that it serves as a matted repository for sweat and every time they get off a bench, it leaves a moist, acidic, acrid, drippy residue and, frankly, given a choice, I think I'd rather sit on hot tar.

Plus it's such a God-awful look. I could watch an autopsy and still not lose my appetite, but the sight of you guys in your Dr. Zaius costumes makes me want to give up eating forever.

Wear T-shirts. Preferably cotton.


Don't Give Us Guys Dirty Looks.

Hey you hot female types, don't get attitudinal when you catch us eyeballing you when you're doing Kama Sutra style stretches on the mat. Listen, if you dress in a Wonder Bra sports bra, and wear low-slung built-in camel toe tights...hell, it's all we can do to not pull down our sweats and jizz on your taut, tan, glistening belly while screaming like a wolverine.

Besides, what are you so shy about? Most of us have gal pals who've seen you naked in the dressing rooms and then dutifully described to us what you look like naked.

We know what size, color, hue and texture your nipples are. We know if your labial lips are tight and pursed like the lips on George W.'s face, or if they're full and oversized like Lisa Rinna's pontoon-boat lip job.

It Rains Doughnuts and Boobs

We know whether you shave your pubes completely off, maintain a tight little landing strip, or if, after a workout, they look like the matted seaweed that washed up on shore after a tropical storm. So relax, we already know your bodies really well; nothing to be shy or embarrassed about. Think of us as your doctor, or a really friendly uncle.


Don't Ask Me for a Spot if You're Going to Lift Like a Moron.

Where did you mutts get the idea that you shouldn't do full-range bench presses, military presses, or squats? Which ACE certified I-spent-a-weekend-studying personal trainer told you that doing full-range motions leads to injury and that you should instead do 1/2 reps for eternity?

Likewise, who told you that putting your feet on the bench while benching is a good idea?

Never mind. It's not my job to yank you out of your world with its candy-colored sky where it rains doughnuts and boobs.

However, don't ask me to spot you if you're going to lift like an ejit. Hell, I'm editor-in-chief of a large, respected weight lifting web site. As such, I've got a reputation to protect. I can't risk someone I know or respect walking into the gym only to see me spotting your inane reps; they might think we're training partners, and within days my shame would spread and before you knew it, readers would leave the site by the thousands and we'd have to close up shop and I'd end up at my old job, which was emptying the spit bucket at cockfights.


Don't Assume Placing a Towel on a Bench Retains Your Rights to the Bench For All Time.

Okay, so you learned to lift from watching kinetoscopes of Jack Lalanne or something. It's only natural that you think circuit training is the cat's pajamas. The thing is, it's rush hour at the gym and there are only two flat benches in the whole damn place.

You can't simply put your towel on the thing and assume it's yours in perpetuity, or at least until you make your next rotation of 10 exercises before coming back to the bench. Look at it this way, would homesteaders in the Wild West been safe from claim jumpers simply because they put a towel on their piece of land?

I don't think so. Some cattle or railroad baron would have hired killer pistoleros to ride onto your land when you were in town buying penny candy and a smokin' hot corset for your woman. They'd tried to steal your towel, or at least defile it by taking a dump on your land and then using it to wipe their butt.

Come to think of it, that might be an appropriate response when you try to claim a bench for an inappropriate amount of time by laying your towel on it.


Ditch That Smug Bosu-Ball Face.

So your ACE-certified trainer taught you to do a Mr. Miagi/Karate Kid one leg in the air, one leg balanced atop the giant breast implant known as a Bosu Ball, two arms curling tiny, tiny weights, exercise.

Well, aren't you spay-shul?

Never mind that the gym floor is peppered with these things, so much so that it looks like a microscopic view of some kid's acne riddled face with the Bosu balls being the pimples and us being the bacteria, and that they form a kind of obstacle course between me and my destination.

No, what bugs me most is the superior attitude of the guys using these things. You think your methods are like, more advanced, to those of us who lift on terra firma, right? Well, you don't know nothin', only you're the gap-toothed hillbilly and I'm the city slicker in bitchin' skin-tight neoprene black vest looking for a couple of mopes to drive my pickups to Aintry while I take those canoes down the river.

I don't mind your delusion—too much—and if you want to live in that same candy-colored-sky world as Mr. Half Repper or Mr. Feet-on-the-Bench, where it rains doughnuts and boobs, that's quite all right.

But knock off the superior look, okay? The truth is, you're wasting your time. Because of the inherent stability of the thing, you can't use any appreciable amount of weight, so your biceps never develop, and if you think you're building your core by doing that silly maneuver, save us all a lot of aggravation and do the one-legged stuff when you're standing in line at the pawn shop after rummaging through your keepsake box and hopefully finding, shuffled among all the Jonas Brothers' concert ticket stubs, the claim ticket for your balls.


Don't Do Dumbbell Curls 3 Inches From the Rack.

Let's say we're in the buffet line at Gasteau's Deep-Fried House of Gastroenteritis. You stop and ladle out a generous scoop of creamed corn, but instead of going back to your chair to eat it with your pimply date, you eat it right there, thereby blocking me from the creamed corn. What the hell? You telling me I gotta' wait for you to finish eating your creamed corn before I can have some?

What kind of cruel, perverse, fuck-your-neighbor, Thunderdome world did you grow up in?

It Rains Doughnuts and Boobs

That scenario is no different from when you grab a pair of dumbbells off the rack and instead of going back to your "chair" or at the very least, backing up six feet, you start to do your spastic curls right there, thereby blocking me and about a dozen other frustrated lifters from grabbing the weights immediately above, below, or next to the weights you just picked up.

If I owned a gym, I'd hire an ex-communicated priest to walk around the dumbbell rack with a 6-foot long broomstick. If a lifter didn't step back at least the distance of the broomstick after he grabbed a pair of dumbbells, the priest would enthusiastically shove the stick up the offender's ass.

I've by no means covered all breaches of gym etiquette, but this is probably a good start. Hopefully, because of etiquette crusaders like myself, gyms will one day be a place where we can all work out without wanting to harpoon our fellow members with the Olympic bar, which might in itself be construed as a breach of etiquette.

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