Strange Men Are Sometimes Necessary

I realize that it is the ‘two thousands‘ and weight training for women is completely acceptable.

That being said, there aren’t that many women in the weight area most mornings. The very few of us that train on a regular basis have come to be accepted as part of the scene by the men that dominate the weights.

I know because I get the casual head cocked to the left chin up greeting most mornings.

I have become as interesting to them as the lat pull down machine, which is fine by me. I do my thing, they do their thing, and rarely do the paths cross unless we are fighting over the only power rack at the YMCA.

On Monday a strange, heavily muscled man insisted on doing chin ups in the power rack even though there are three other places chin ups can be done.

Monday is Leg Day.

I need that power rack and I will fight tooth and nail to get it.

DL – (unplugging one ear bud) Hey. Sorry to be a bother, I know how annoying this question is, but how many more sets do you have?

Strange, Heavily Muscled Man – (french accent) Oh, just a few. You can work in. Don’t worry about it. I will pull up and you use the squat rack.

DLUmm..ok then…this should be interesting. Do you want to use a different location for chin ups? There are a few more around that aren’t being used.

Strange, Heavily Muscled Man  – No. I use this one.

DL I’m doing box squats…this should be hilarious.

With more than a few reservations as to how this would work, I set up my bar, added my warm up weight, and grabbed a box to do my squats. After my first warm up set I found myself trapped in the cage with the strange, heavily muscled man completing chin ups behind me.

I ducked under the safeties and watched from a distance.

While he was distracted by low rows and barbell upright rows, I worked my pyramid for strength on the box squat. I was going for a personal best on the last set of two.

During my set of 12 reps, while sweat was rolling down my back and off my elbows, a french accented cheer went up and I nearly lost the bar off my back due to surprise.

Strange, heavily muscled man was back.

This time he didn’t do chin ups. He helped me load more weight on my bar and then proceeded to do military overhead presses with it.


I had been feeling good about my box squat weight, that was until the strange, heavily muscled man threw it over his head like it was a kitten.

This went on for three more progressively heavy sets.

I finally out squatted his over head press abilities and he moved to barbell bicep curls. On my last set where I was just killing it, my new found friend came back to bark instructions at me.

It was very annoying, oddly encouraging, and in some strange way appreciated and not.

DL Personal Best on Squat - Jan 10, 2011

185 pounds...not too shabby for a woman with pencil legs if I say so myself! Room to grow, that is for sure!

Luckily he didn’t see any need to help me with my SLDLs.

I grumped and complained about him and his ridiculous ways to my coach and received a most hilarious response.

Strange men are necessary sometimes…that may be one of the weirdest things I’ve ever typed…


The very next day, I could have used his help when I attempted my 50lb db chest press. I actually looked around to see if there was anyone that could help me. There was no one I felt comfortable asking; so I did what I could but I know I didn’t give it everything.

An ‘All the way! Up, up, UP!!‘ in a french accent from a strange, heavily muscled man would have been beneficial.

Heck as if I knew!

How do you ask for spots from the men at the gym?

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  1. I ALMOST DIED, DL. OMG so funny!!!

    ps – there’s only two guys I’ve ever felt comfortable asking for a spot from and the one was really good and the other somehow thought this meant we were working out together for the rest of my session. Uhhhh no.

    I think the easiest thing to do is scream at the top of your lungs:
    Oh come ON! A LITTLE HELP HERE???


    • Yup. I once asked for a spot from a man and he thought we were dating too. NOT OK. I now only ask men who know I am Jon’s wife or who seem NORMAL. Playing floor hockey on wednesday mornings helps because I have gotten to know a few of them now.

      I am totally going to implement the screaming next time. 😉

  2. Gotta love unexpected encouragement!! I usually ask one a friend, the front desk person, or someone I know who knows how to properly spot. I’m always really nice about asking and then thank them profusely for helping me.

  3. I never see men and women in the weight room, only athletes. I offer if needed, and receive as well, male or female assistance. We are one; people of iron.

  4. Thankfully I’ve been at my gym since I was a teen .. so I’m like part of the furniture and no one raises an eyebrow (unless of course they are new). Usually its just me and the same group of men in the weight area every morning so I just ask whomever is closest lol.

    Damn – no cute accents in my gym though!

  5. Haha this is hilarious! It’s so funny you posted this because this guy at my gym has been doing step-ups in the squat rack at my gym every day this week. Seriously. Every day. My gym also has one squat rack, and that is not a good place to do step-ups! He is so lucky I had already done my squats early before he hopped in there or I would have whacked him in the head 😉

  6. I dont ask : (
    I wish I had the guts to but have run into situations that I prefer avoided!

    I think Ill try to ask the front desk approach

    though early AMs its usually an admin who knows nothing really of what to do or how to help.

    • Yes, I know what you mean! I suppose if you give clear directions and tell them not to help you until you say ‘help’ it could work well. Right? RIGHT! Front desk help here we come. Kari is so smart!

  7. You have me dying over here Donloree! You are TOO funny!

    I’ve “made nice” with a couple of guys at the gym that I can ask to spot me. But even at that I still always feel awkward in asking. Good luck!

  8. I was just tweeting about getting over the fear of working out in the weights room w/ the guys. While I received lots of words of encouragements and how to’s, I just have not done it yet. So kudos to you for making it in there and strutting your stuff. I hide out in the classroom and do my weights there. Alone in a big room. My and my iPhone Pandora radio.

    Funny story. Nice quote. 😉 Thank you for sharing.

  9. You have a French – I have a Russian! I mean, my Russian was hired though. I started an olympic lifting workshop twice a week where we break down the snatch and clean and jerk down into pieces and train 3 lifts a day. There’s always a back or front squat or a deadlift involved each week. And in this adorable Russian accent I always hear, “asslow” which means, GET YOUR ASS DOWN, which also means in my head STOP PULLING WITH YOUR BACK!!!! My Russian is small though – 65kg. But the kid is competing for the Olympics! No big muscles necessary!

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