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Christmas training in London

They come for advice’s but we give them the wrong advice’s

Its Christmas time and I have just spent the last 4 days with family in London. Staying at my brother Dan’s place in Kentish Town. We both went in search of a gym to null the boredom of Christmas TV and create a calorie deficit before the Christmas feast.

Luckily Dans house mate had 2 week passes for LA fitness that needed to be used up by the end of the year, so we threw on our best muscle vests and headed into the world of commercial fitness.

Before training at Dave’s I had only been to the gym at Maindy pool and used a few running machines when at college and at a leisure centre. Back then I was oblivious to the amount of useless knowledge and the bombardment of false promises relentlessly marketed to commercial gym uses. The first thing I noticed at LA fitness was the amount of Cardio machines. Cardio rules in the commercial gym, funny because the most ripped guys are usually the ones lifting the weights. But here members want to watch endless episodes of Friends whilst using a cross trainer to sweat a bit and stay the same shape. The experience seems to be geared to making the workout as painless and comfortable as possible. To be fair not everyone in the gym wants to bust their balls doing a 3 way body split over 2 days, but somehow, the distractions of rolling Sky News is enough to put me off a workout.

The next thing that got to me was the lack of useful lifting knowledge that was being handed out to clients. The personal trainers readily promoted the use of a Smith machine, for benching, squatting and pressing. Smith machines do have their place in a gym, for example they help bodybuilders with isolation who have built up mass with compound lifts, but for new lifters learning good form on basic lifts is vital. It particulary applies to the commercial fitness crowd who want to loose weight and tone due to the amount of muscles used in compound lifts. Because of this I witnessed some truly horrendous form. Bent back deads, half rep bench press and some bad bad squats.

So on to the workout. With one squat rack and one 20 kg bar (the other bars weighed 10kg and were made of plastic) Dan and I gather up enough weights to ramp up to a 180 kg squat. On our push day we hit some military of 90kg and bench press of around 120kg. The bench press was made hard as the benches available had an annoying curve that did not enable you to arch your back, which again promotes bad form. On deadlift day I was told off for not wearing shoes. The instructor explained that they had a strict no shoe policy. I tried to compromise explaining that for me to lift 220kg off the floor I needed complete energy transmission through the heels, achieved best whilst bare foot. Even with socks on my request was denied.

Over the four days we managed to hit some good lifts and relaxed a bit in the pool and steam room. To be honest I was grateful for the free day pass and had a laugh maxing out the isolation machines (some machines we could not work out a functional use) but was disappointed at the overall generic feel and consumerism on offer. For me the gym is a place to escape all the boredom of work, shopping and general day to day. Its simply lifting weights to achieve a goal, man and metal, sweat and chalk. In contrast advertisements for cosmetic surgery in the changing rooms make the allure of La fitness make it no different to that of fashion magazines, selling something that everyone wants but cannot achieve.

This made me realize how great Dave’s Gym is. Not to blow ones trumpet but just looking around and seeing normal people squatting, benching, using kettle bells etc, is an inspiring sight compared to the endless cardio machines of the commercial gym.

Ok rant over, here are a couple of videos from our week in LA.

The lone squat rack

Strange human puppet device?
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