“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.” John Lewis
“…unsolicited gym advice is often not well received. Even if coming from an educated, well-meaning and respectful approach.” A constant self-reminder.
I believe my self-reminder to be true and I largely keep to myself. I also believe there is a tipping point. Namely, when someone is going to injure themselves if left unchecked.
In the space of less than two weeks I’ve witnessed two people get pinned under the bar while attempting to bench press. The first time I was the person that pulled the bar off of them, the second thankfully had someone standing there to help them. In this case, the tipping point was right after the bar left the stands.
The first person didn’t know how to bench press, and was honestly receptive to properly learn the technique. I never bothered approaching the second person and hopefully they learned from their error…which in this case was “don’t put so much weight on the damn bar for rep 1.”
A few facts about barbell bench pressing…
It’s a lift with attributable deaths. (The worst case versions of what happened to the two people, thankfully neither were hurt)
Even though you are laying down, it is still a full-body movement. Literally from the feet to the grip. (Neither person knew this fact, I can tell by observation)
Not everyone has to bench press, and some people probably shouldn’t as there are other exercises better suited for them and their goals. (Neither person knew this fact)
Every great bencher started with an empty bar. (Neither person did this, both tried their first rep with more than I start with without nearly the strength or skill to do so.)
I’ve given consideration to offering free “Learn to Lift” classes at the gym. I would cover 2-3 exercises per class to keep the material easy to absorb and initially base things off the most common exercises I see gym members performing. It would essentially be the nuts and bolts of what something is for, why something is being done and on a client defined basis how to do it.
Back in the early to mid-1980’s this wasn’t an uncommon thing for some gyms, as personal training certifications hadn’t became widespread or a potential income stream.
It’s actually how I initially learned to lift. Back then it was the Weider principles,Muscle and Fitness magazine and gym bro’s pulling me aside to show me where I was screwing up.
3×12 years later, things are guided by a lot of professional experience,NSCA/ACSM guidelines, where the evidence leads, joint structure and function and a large toolbox at my disposal. While I haven’t picked up a copy of Muscle and Fiction in years, I still prudently utilize a couple of the Weider principles.
Despite its good intentions, the idea is not without potential drawbacks. Namely, people often don’t appreciate things given freely, and there’s no guarantee that anyone would show up. There also happens to be a trainer employed by the gym, and the mere suggestion of classes could be misinterpreted as a hostile take-over.
Learning to Lift is one thing, learning how to put together a session and when to change exercise variations are entirely different matters.
I believe the universe will send me an answer.