A Blast From The Past

This past weekend I paid a visit to a commercial gym for the first time in, well, it’s been so long I don’t remember.  Which is funny to think about since I work in the training industry and obviously our local gyms are where the vast majority of those who choose to “work out” go.

Those couple of hours spent in the old stomping grounds so to speak really got the gears turning.  Ever the optimist I took various things away from this experience.  First off, I’ve got it made at Ambition Athletics.  Virtually all of the equipment and open space I need to train members and myself is available.  This also means that I don’t have to train in a crowded gym, although if it is crowded while I’m training it probably means the place is full of my friends, which I like.


Secondly, I was reacquainted with reason why gyms can be so intimidating and especially for women.  This place I trained was vast, dare I say overwhelming, as it was filled with a ton of equipment.  So much that I hardly would know what to do with it all (mostly just sit and collect dust).  Fill that room with some more people and I’m telling you, unless a person literally, knows exactly what they want to do as far as training that day, and how to do it, it would be a nightmare. Like, this is scary, please get me out of this place.  And not only would you have to know exactly what you’re doing, aka game plan, but you better have a plan B just in case what you want to be doing is currently occupied. Otherwise you’re going to be there for a few extra hours.  I can’t say I’ve ever judged someone for being intimidated at the gym but I certainly have a better perspective on the situation.

Third, and perhaps most important, I hope that we at Ambition can continue to provide a more welcoming setting that fosters learning and a comfortable situation for those that can feel lost in the vastness of a big, crowded gym.  I hope that we are doing something right as the majority of our members are women.

Now don’t get me wrong, this was not a bad place.  I happy to take in the atmosphere change and get out of my own little bubble.  As I said it had a ton of equipment.  Something for everyone no matter what style of training turns you on.  That being said here are a few other observations that I made.

Things that I saw:  Lots of bench pressing, some curls and tricep work, several people doing rows.  Some squatting, although done poorly, and lots of dumbbell raises (sometimes with a spotter!!).  Oh, and something done with a kettlebell.  I think it was supposed to be a swing but I’m not 100%.

A few things I wish I saw:  A pull up, a push up, a well executed squat or swing, perhaps an overhead press from a standing position.  Also, a TRX or some rings.  I think using those are perhaps the most efficient and effective way to do rows.  Rows are important  for everyone and anyone can do them in this style.

Spotter 2

Final thoughts:  This was a great experience really.  I got to get out in the wild and still do my thing and it reminded me how much training has changed in some aspects and in other ways hardly at all.  Most people that haven’t studied training or gone to what I consider a legitimate training facility still train like a bodybuilder.  It’s very easy to see.  Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with training like a bodybuilder.  Problem is, no one wants to look like one or has the time available even if they did.  In creating the optimal training program as well as gym design, less is more.  The training industry is certainly making progress but it’s still got a way to go.  If you are a person looking to learn about how to train smart and meet your goals, a large public gym is likely not the place.  Experts are likely churning out happy, healthy and strong people in a smaller space focused on coaching and teaching while avoiding the vastness of a chain type gym.

– Mike Baltren

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1 Response to A Blast From The Past

  1. Heidi Kamrath says:

    Excellent points, Mike, but you forgot to mention all the rows of ellipticals and treadmills with the TVs turned to Fox News: aaaargh!
    Getting to “work out” in a cozy yet spacious (yes, it is possible) gym with people who know and encourage you, and the best coaches ever (…AND bring your puppy): priceless!

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