He's just your father, man. He's just as full of shit as anybody.
- "Crash" Davis, Bull Durham
Learning how to break another person's body is easy. The only reason it's hard is because we make it special. If you want to effectively learn to defend yourself, you have to stop making it special.
- Sgt. Rory MillerApply this sentiment to everything*.
This rant is inspired by a post made by someone who is but one in a legion, who are victims of a terrible disorder - Barbell Bogeymanism. This tragic mental affliction manifests itself as an extreme aversion to the use of traditional, effective strength training implements and a manic, obsessive pursuit of strength training using anything but, including literally flushing currency down their toilets rather than train using a barbell. This disease is made all the more terrible by the mental health community's refusal to accept it as real, namely due to the fact that it isn't goddamn real and is just a bunch of people being dinks for no reason.
In this case, the dink who has - to put it in internet terms - "tweaked my jimmies into maximum over-rustle" was faced with a stupid problem, and came up with a stupid solution. He had found out about a product that purported to be better than all known strength training methods. It promised him the gains of a lifetime, protection for his joints, reduced injury risk, and definitely not looking like an asshole - all for a mere $550. And for his money, he was to receive a veritable treasure trove:
- Two feet of metal shaped like a tube.
- A flat piece of plastic.
- Four resistance bands.
- That's it.
- THAT'S IT.
I'm aware of the concept of the Curse of Knowledge. It's very possible that I've known enough for long enough that this is much easier for me than for a total layman. But I don't think I want to grant that. Because in my mind, when presented with:
- A high cost product
- A website that looks like someone just took an Internet Marking 101 online course
A person exercising normal common sense and worldly acumen should recognize this immediately for what it is, and bail out. This person did not do that. They bought it hook, line, and sinker. But, thankfully (?), the internet rescued them from spending $550 and helped them spend just $150 instead. On the same thing. But built yourself. That's right! For only $150, this brilliant individual achieved a strength training device equivalent to $60 in resistance bands and $10 on a pipe from Home Depot! Isn't modern technology wonderful and amazing?
By the way, he also admitted that he would rather have spent the $550 just to save the time it took him to build the thing. Put that in your craw and throw it up.
Which brings me to the point of this rant -
- Just go to a fucking gym.
- Just use a fucking barbell.
- Probably also just use some fucking dumbbells.
- Probably also just do some simple bodyweight shit.
- God damnit.
Picture a man that has a powerful need for a lemonade to quench his thirst. He knows that grocery stores exist - he even lives down the street from them. So he drives 20 miles to his local arboretum, purchases a lemon tree, plants it in his back yard, harvests the lemons, purchases sugar and a lemon squisher from the grocery store, watches some YouTube videos on the proper ratio of lemon to water to sugar, and makes himself a glass of lemonade. Ahh, refreshing!
It is a known quality of the above things that they can be used - effectively and reliably - to build strength and/or muscle. But for reasons that approach Lovecraftian horror degrees of being unfathomable to my mind, some people refuse to use them - going so far as to react to the very idea of them with fear and aversion.
These things need to be framed properly.
A gym is just a building. A barbell is just a long piece of metal. Dumbbells are just smaller pieces of metal. Get over it. Having aversions to these things is dumb. If you have goals that involve getting stronger or building muscle, and you aren't using the most time proven effective implements for doing that, you are being dumb, and you are probably making the world a worse place.
Whoa there cowboy, come on back to the ranch, what was that last bit?
Inappropriate aversion to basic, time tested, nearly ubiquitous strength training implements like barbells and dumbbells, or basic bodyweight exercises, makes the world a worse place.
Because people like you make it possible for a company to sell a two foot piece of metal, four pieces of rubber, and a piece of plastic for five hundred and fifty dollars - and not just get away with it, but be profitable. Your hangups make it possible for a dickhole to sell a product that's worth $100 in actual equipment for $800. You are a human gazelle, except dumber - because even a gazelle has the good sense to take off for the hills when a giant drooling predator that wants nothing more than to eat it alive is standing right in its face. And if you are opening your mouth and talking about your aversions, and your search for gimmick alternatives - the ones that are based on nothing - you are helping to spread that thought AIDS to the rest of the world.
And that is what makes me the most angry - That people insist on making a building and metal special and in doing so, enable scumbags to run skipping through a field of doe-eyed prey just waiting to ejaculate their money into their open, waiting mouth.
Listen to me, hear me very well.
It's just a building with people grunting in it.
It's just a long stick made of metal.
It's not going to leap at you from the grasses of the savannah to maul and eat you. It's not going to follow you down a dark alley, knock you out, and steal your wallet. It's not going to kill you and fuck your wife, and burn your house to the ground. It's not going to kidnap your dog and give it a different, dumber name like "Crusher", "Mr. Flufferpumpkins", or "Paul". It's not going to come to your office and use your computer to look up strange pornography so that you get fired. There is no threat to you to be found in them.
It's just a building.
It's just a metal stick.
Just go to the building. Just pick up and move the stick of metal around in varying planes of motion and from varying bodily orientations. Maybe add some metal discs to the ends. There is nothing to be afraid of. It's fine.
You might think I am being flippant. I am. It serves a purpose.
You know what I've found is an incredibly useful skill in being a technology professional? Being able to tell my 90 year old grandmother what I do. If I can explain my job to a person who is slowly losing their mind and knows how to use a computer only to the extent necessary to read e-mails on a 10 year old version of Outlook, I can explain it to the Product Manager who is only slightly more technologically savvy. Turns out, that skill is also useful in finding ways to help people understand that the thing they've built a castle of complexity out of in their mind is actually just a rock with googly eyes sitting in an empty field.
That is what I hope someone, anyone, will maybe understand here. Because I've found that when I've got a hangup about something, and I boil it down to its most base components, to the point of absurdity, I get over it a lot quicker. And that is what some people really, really need to do - See how absurd it is to be hung up on walking into a building and picking up a metal stick.
Failing all of that, at least just quit looking to gimmick products for an alternative to real training implements and stick with bodyweight shit instead. You are better off 99% of the time - and it's even free!
One final note:
Are you seven hundred years old and have dust running through your veins where blood should be? Do you have a crippling disease that makes it wildly unsafe for you to engage in barbell training? Do you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder that causes you to have full blown panic attacks if you are surrounded by too many other people? Do you have a complete inability to access a training facility with free weights due to either severe financial hardship or the simple virtue of where you live and work in relation to them? Do you have fitness goals that have absolutely nothing, in any possible way, to do with getting bigger or stronger? Do you - genuinely, and not just as an excuse for being afraid of buildings and metal sticks - have any of about seven hundred thousand possible outlier life situations that make an avoidance of gyms and/or free weights totally legitimate and understandable?
That sucks, and I'm sorry. This rant isn't about you. You know it's not about you. As the kids say - Don't fuckin' @ me.