This kind of builds off a post I wrote last week, but, I wanted to address an important issue that faces young people and aspiring powerlifters everywhere COMMERCIAL GYMS. They are the entry point for almost everyone that is trying to become proficient in powerlifting, bodybuilding really any type of strength sport. But, it also a filthy cesspool filled with has been’s and wannabes. Walk into any 24-hour fitness and you will find a plethora of 50 years olds that could bench 405 “in their day”.
Some people would consider the gym relics valuable, at most gyms they are. If you go to a real powerlifting gym the old experienced dudes will always provide you with valuable knowledge and experience. In a commercial gym, they will instill you with the fear of failure and remind you of your differences from the regular fitness person.
However, the pervasive issue of commercial gyms is the undeniable level of average that is accepted. How many 600 pound squatters are at your local 24hr fitness? Let me answer that 1 the caveat being he squats 1/3 of the way! On a more serious note, though, 24hr fitness is the type of place you would be judged for using knee sleeves. If your goal is to look a little better and feel a little better, then going to a commercial gym is for you.
If your long-term goal is to become a world champ in powerlifting, you need to find a space that is conducive to that type of behavior. Oprah Winfrey famously remarked “only surround yourself with people that lift you higher” a profound statement to say the least. We are all a product of our environment. Look at performance gyms such as Westside, Super training, and Barbell Brigade, the reason they produce so many great lifters is not because of special equipment, drugs or amazing programming, but, from the environment. Recently, I watched a motivational talk from Mark Bell where he raised this point. He spoke about how on that day he walked in the gym and saw some monsters benching big weight and it made him want to do more!
I doubt you have ever walked into the gym and felt threatened by the guy half repping 135, and if you did then perhaps you have some training left to do there. However, being the best in any space is not conducive to success. We all know the self-proclaimed hometown heroes guys that are big fish in a small pond. But, what is the point, Being the best is simply being comfortable, champions are so successful because of adversity.
Jack Nicklaus is not considered the best of all time simply because he won the most (He didn’t Sam Snead did) he is considered the GOAT because of his competition, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player always sat on his tail pushing him to become great. Comfort is the ultimate enemy of greatness, it is easy to be comfortable and for the most part, it is rather enjoyable. Having no challenges in life means you can pursue leisure and relaxation, the truth: comfort is directly linked to mediocrity. “Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity” Will Smith. I live by this quote, every goal I have I question the attainability of it, then I make it harder. This year I told myself I was going to become a world champion powerlifter. Maybe that’s unrealistic, maybe it is insane but aiming for a goal that is the most distant from my comfort zone can only help me improve in the sport. So push yourself and remember strength has no limit.