When I first started training with my old gym buddy, he was a rather reserved guy in the gym environment. He was happy to train with me and was a supportive and helpful spotter, but when it came down to the sort of exercises we did, he was only really happy for us to stick to using the machines and lifting a few light dumbbells and barbells (in fact it took me a while to get him to come to the free weights room to begin with).
His concern of course, was that we would upset other people working out in the gym or that we would embarrass ourselves. How nice. He wanted us to stick to exercises that could be classed as 'normal', and to lift them quietly in the corner where we wouldn't upset anyone else – just like all the other gym-goers there.
Today thankfully, that's all changed. After a while I convinced him that a good workout should make no apologies, and we started training in a flamboyant, noisy and bizarre way that undoubtedly draws attention. Here's why this is a good thing...
Why It's Okay to Be Annoying
I know that you probably hate me right about now. You're probably thinking of the noisy people in your gym, who dominate all the weights and who slam them down hard on the floor and grunt loudly for show and spectacle. You probably find them distracting and disruptive and you probably think I'm just as bad as them...
You're not wrong. While I don't condone people making a noise for the sake of it, or to try and get attention, I do think that we tend to go a little too far with gym etiquette. Might I suggest even, that if you were really focusing on your own workout and if you were really putting in the kind of effort that you should be, that you wouldn't notice that those people were making a lot of noise? And might I suggest that they're probably getting a much better workout than you are if you're standing there moaning about it?
A good example of a workout that annoys everyone is an exercise that my friend developed (you see, he's even making up this stuff now!) called 'Nathan's Crazy Pec Blast'. For this exercise, one person lies on a bench while holding heavy dumbbells extended out over them as though they are about to do a press. Only they don't – instead they do whatever the spotter, standing directly behind them, indicates that they should do. The spotter will communicate this either by pushing lightly or firmly on the weights, or by directing their training partner with their hands, and the person underneath will keep doing what they tell them until they can't hold the weights anymore and they're forced to let them go.
The brilliance behind this workout is that it puts you at the mercy of your training partner. They then inevitably become slightly sadistic and will push you to the point where you think your pecs are going to explode (and it's amazing how creative a little sadism can make you). The reason it's annoying for everyone else though, is that you'll be laughing and shouting with your friend while waving your arms everywhere with no real pattern or predictability.
Other examples of annoying exercises I do are the muscle up (where I go up on top of the pull up bar like a gymnast), handstand press ups, and huge drop sets that use up half the weights in the room. And I'm not sorry.
The point is, that these workouts are a million times better than just quietly curling in the corner. If you really want to build muscle then you need to be willing to put in 100% effort and that gets noisy. If you really want to make your training intense then you should be moving between multiple stations and that takes up space. If you put in enough effort and have enough banter with your training buddy then it will make noise.
And it's only then that you'll start to grow. Be loud, be proud, take up space and fundamentally: encourage everyone else around you to do the same. If you have fun with your training and if you push it to the next level, you'll find that your enthusiasm is contagious.