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Observations From the Gym – Sleeveless Shirt Edition

I am surrending my dream of a gym where nobody struts.

I’ve been in Denver for three days, climbing the walls because my mom only has a rack of 15 lb dumbbells. But today we went over to the rec center and did some training.

A few observations:

Cutting the sides out of your shirt from armpit to hipbone does not improve performance. Unless all of the sassy gents surrounding me were working at peak performance, in which case, I would still say that wearing a sideless, sleeveless shirt is not a goal worth aspiring to.

If you drop a 315 power clean, it’s going to be noisy and people will startle. If you drop a 15 lb dumbbell after triceps kickbacks in purpose, just so people will say, “Hey! Who’s that pale soft man in the sideless, sleeveless, shirt?” you are a knave.

If you groan and moan, it does not sound like someone laying it all on the line or going to war with the weights. It reminds me of the girl and the tagline from Flashdance:

Something happens when she hears the music…it’s her freedom. It’s her fire. It’s her life.

Substitute “hears the music” with “dons a sideless shirt and groans for no reason” and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what I saw.

If someone is sneering at everyone while pressing 20 lb dumbbells overhead with a furious fury, then pacing around crazily like Tom Hardy in Warrior, and then you walk up and start pressing the 100 lb dumbbells while looking bored, they will still sneer and find a way to condescend to you. When this particular specimen antler crashes in the gym, in his cocky head the alpha is the one lifting dozens of pounds when hundreds are available.

Tapout shirts are not an indicator of performance either, sided or sideless.

It makes me very happy to see elderly people lifting weights and enjoying it. Quality of life is the best possible reason to move and get strong. Aging well is a goal worth aspiring to.

Nobody squatted.

Nobody deadlifted

Nobody did power cleans.

Nobody did pullups.

There was a lot of bench pressing.

Only librarians do them all with style and verve and a twinkle in their eye and a spring in their step and—feel free to continue inserting cliches.

Bandannas and kerchiefs make perfectly good shirts.  They do not improve performance. However, if women are wearing them near men, the kerchiefs will probably up the tempo of the men’s lifting and groaning.

That’s about it. I felt strong, my shirt had its sides, and yes, I’ve totally given up on my dream of a gym where people are strong, courteous, and nobody struts.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Boris B January 16, 2012, 6:44 pm

    When I was 18 or 19 (a looooong time ago), I wore t-shirts like these in the gym when with teammates on occasion… I probably looked like this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSTWcMdkWMA

    Apparently, it’s a pretty enduring gym fashion for the young and ummm – silly…

  • Heather January 17, 2012, 7:15 am

    Josh, librarians do EVERYTHING with sparkle and verve and energy and. . . etc. I think it’s all the coffee. Sideless, sleeveless shirts. . . why, Pavel, why? Kudos on the old people! That’s awesome! Go elderly lifters!

  • Todd January 17, 2012, 7:55 am

    Is this the description at most gyms around the country, because I could swear that I’ve been there. LOL

    Bonus points for the use of “knave” and “furious fury”.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2012, 2:24 pm

      If you’ve been in one, you’ve been in them all.

  • Michelle January 17, 2012, 9:58 am

    It’s stuff like this that keeps this overweight, soft, flabby white girl from going to the gym down the street. I’m a bit intimidated by the skinny girls in their bandeau tops and short-shorts and the guys posturing next to them.

    I’ll stick to doing body-weight workouts at home.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2012, 2:23 pm

      I understand completely. It’s why I train alone 99% of the time.

    • Todd January 18, 2012, 7:35 am

      This was the reason that my wife asked to build a home gym. That way she doesn’t have to workout in front of these people. Oddly enough, she became a personal trainer, and worked with some of them.

  • gary ennor January 17, 2012, 12:09 pm


    First visit to your blog. I love yesterday’s post (1/16) and your focus on “get stronger, smarter and healthier.” Appreciate the writing style and humor ― appropriate humor. Now if you’re still in Denver, you might want to pop up to western Boulder County where we’re expecting 95+ mph wind gusts today and tonight. Could make for interesting skiing at the local Eldora ski resort and you will see no bare armpit to hip bone.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 17, 2012, 2:23 pm

      Hi Gary, it’s great to meet you and thanks. I’m back in Salt Lake already, alas.

  • Geoffrey January 19, 2012, 12:45 pm

    I imagine that you didn’t get there early enough. I find that ALL of the serious strength athletes and bodybuilders are there at 0530 or 0600 in their 10 year old gym shorts and stained t-shirts for some REAL work. I missed my 0530 workout once many years ago and had to hit the gym after work. I, of course, showed up in my usual attire to find the gym packed (lines at the freeweights) full of peacocks and peahens all sitting on the benches in their $200 outfits preventing me from a decent workout. The owner even stopped me and asked me (in a rude manner) if he could help me with something! I was geared up to perspire instead of pick-up some vacuous loser, so I guess the owner didn’t think I belonged in this crowd. Too bad for him…I didn’t renew my membership after that incident.

    • Josh Hanagarne January 19, 2012, 1:17 pm

      Absolutely true. I was a morning lifter for years. Those people were real, ugly, and there to work.