Friday, February 10, 2012

Grunting: The Dreaded Free Weight Room

I am new to the world of the gym. Having resolved to make my health and fitness a priority, spending time at the gym is becoming a staple in my weekly routine. While I find that I am getting well acquainted with different exercises and exercise machines, there is one area of the gym that I fear to tread.
Behind a partial wall, tucked to the rear of the building, away from the cardio machines, spinning rooms and yoga mats, is the free weight room. When I work the weight machines I am a stones throw from the free weight room, not close enough to really see what goes on in there, but definitely close enough to hear what goes on in there.
They say if you sit long enough in one place, the whole world will pass you by. This may be true, but if you sit long enough near the free weight room, you see a whole other world of gym patron pass you by. Into this mysterious room disappear giant men, their poor t-shirts barely able to contain their burly mass, arms propped out by massive lats; Amazon women with bodies of iron and physique most men would sell their mothers for. They disappear behind the wall and for a good while they vanish. All that remains is their grunting.
From the free weight room issues forth a chorus of hissing and grunting that would put any tennis player to shame. Now being a novice in the gym, I can only assume the grunting issues forth under the Herculean effort needed to heft such tremendous weights. On my side of the wall, the weight machine side, we are a quiet lot. The only break in the peace is the occasional clang of a poorly executed rep. In fact, on my side of the gym we are so quite, that no one even notices when we come and go. We are like gym ninjas – stealthy and quite. I would like to think that we choose to leave the grunting to the giants on the other side of the wall. Of course, really this is totally untrue. I choose to leave the grunting to the giants on the other side of the wall because I am totally ignorant of free weights.
Talking to a friend of mine who swears that while he loves to use free weights, not all of his kind, are grunters. He does however, insist that free weights are an excellent way to expand your work out. If done correctly, free weights allow you to work a wide range of muscles through a full range of motion, unhampered by any physical limitation often present in a machine. Further, lifting free weights forces your body to develop its stabilizers. These muscles help with balance and support. Another key component of free weights is that there is no size restrictions. That is, you have to be able to 'fit' a weight machine. If not, you cannot use it. Free weights are, according to my friend, an essential aspect of any weight training regime.
I still sit near the free weight room to see the goings and comings of the gym giants, but I have made an appointment with a personal trainer to get introduced to the world of free weights. According to my trainer, good form while using free weights is vital for safety. Injury is possible if not used correctly. I look forward to my first foray into the unknown. I am excited to see what lies behind the wall. My trainer assures me that somewhere behind the wall, there are normal people like myself all taking advantage of free weights. More importantly, grunting is not a prerequisite. Apparently, there are free weight ninjas too.