T Nation

Strength Training as a Pathology


I just got back from a vacation. No normally on a vacation I work out like a fiend. I head to the gym at 5 am, train hard for 2 - 3 hours then spend the rest of the day doing something physical (whitewater rafting, hiking etc.) with the family. All of it gives me an excuse to head like a frikkin horse and make training the effective focus of my life.

We’re talking about a good time.

now the problem is that I went to someplace very rural (in Virginia) and the only gym any place was at a hospital. It looks like a fitness club (and indeed it is). Indoor track, a pool, tons of state of the art equipment and in the acres of these, there are some dumbbells plus a few benches. In short it is just possible to get a workout in.

What got to me though was the fact that in all the facility, it was hammered home that training was part of a healthy lifestyle. “Training” means using machines, walking on treadmills and such. It took me a day or two to really digest it. Then it hit me.

–>Training is now therapy<–

This I think will probably end up being the single worst thing to happen to sports ever. People with astonishingly sedentary lives are being sold on the idea that rather than getting off their fat asses and doing something they are to go to a shiny facility where experts (and there was a ton of poorly trained “Athletic Trainers” there) watch you use machines and monitor your progress, clipboard in hand. Again, this is part of a hospital, so there were bona fide patients there doing rehab – all mixed in with the fitness people. It was clear that therapy was the only mode of thinking for these people.

I got stared at a lot, needless to say for training hard, and lifting big weights as well as explosive work. Judging by the reaction, I don’t think that what I was doing was even on the radar as an activity for the clients or staff. Even the serious lifters that were there had little knowledge of how good form (one poor lady was complaining of her bad knees while using the leg press – she had on two big braces and her knees were caving in with a load approximately 75% of her bodyweight. I asked her to do a bodyweight squat and she couldn’t.) I definitely felt like a fish out of water, but, but, but, I was almost the only one actually training anything. It was surreal.

So I have to ask you all. Did I just take a tour through the Twilight Zone
or have any of the rest of you seen this therapizing of fitness?

– jj

You’ve just described most if not all commercial gyms in the U.S. Keep focused on what you’re doing and don’t worry about anyone else in the gym.

Not just the US, most commercial Gyms in the UK are suffering the same problem.

GP referral scheme here, makes me cringe handing off people who need real expert help on to a “trainer” that has passed a gp referral exam, and the first place they usually send them is the treadmill, Doris can barely stand up straight and your making her jog on a tread mill!