In December of 2017, I wrote a blog post about a new gym that had recently opened in Dickinson, North Dakota, called The Pit Gym. When I looked in the window of The Pit Gym, I saw two heavy-duty squat racks, two heavy-duty bench press benches, and a long rack of complete dumbbell pairs going up to 100 lbs or more.
I was very happy and surprised to see this, because this was a weight room gym, and not a fitness center. I had not seen a weight room like this, since I worked out in the Gainesville Gym, the Daytona Gym, and the Powerhouse Gym in Florida with power lifting and body building competitors.
Starting about twenty years ago, most gyms in the United States adopted a Fitness Center model, in order to appeal to a broader range of men and women. In doing so, these gyms became more feminized, or emasculated, into Fitness Centers where achieving maximum size and strength was no longer the goal, but some vision of “general health and wellness”.
The West River Community Center in Dickinson, is one of the nicest fitness centers in the United States, and probably even the World. It has an indoor Olympic lap pool, an indoor amusement park pool, an outdoor pool, hot tub, two indoor tennis courts, four indoor racketball courts, four indoor basketball courts, one indoor volleyball court, upper level 1/5 mile jogging track, outdoor skateboard park, indoor rock climbing wall, floor exercise area, aerobics rooms and classes, thirty pieces of cardiovascular equipment, bench press benches, squat racks, dead lift platforms, dumbbells, and cable machines.
The West River Community Center also has very large men’s and women’s locker rooms with many lockers, toilets, and showers. There is also a children’s day care facility. The cost of a membership is only about $30 per month. Like I said, the West River Community Center is one of the nicest fitness centers in the United States.
However, one thing that the West River Community Center, and the Anytime Fitness in Dickinson do not have, is a heavy weight lifting area with the absence of women and children.
It does not matter that the West River Community Center has three heavy-duty squat racks and two dead lift platforms, when these squat racks and dead lift platforms are usually occupied by women or children who are only lifting just the 45 lb bar, without any weights, and doing many sets of exercises.
I think that women’s fitness magazines must have shown so many articles where a professional trainer is doing squats with just a bar inside of a squat rack, or lunges with just the bar on a dead lift platform, that this is what women think these things are for.
Squat racks, which are a heavy steel framework consisting of four vertical corner posts and overhead horizontal cross bracing, were invented about fifty years ago, to allow power lifters doing heavy squat exercises, to train without a spotter, and to help prevent a catastrophic injury or accident. A squat exercise, is where you rest the bar on your upper back, and perform a knee bend and back bend, to where your upper legs become horizontal or parallel to the floor.
High School football linemen can typically squat about 350 lbs. College football linemen can typically squat about 400 lbs. Very good competitive power lifters can squat more than 700 lbs. It is common when performing heavy squat exercises, for lifters of any age, to experience a problem. The most common problems are a sudden knee weakness, loss of balance, or loss of footing.
If a power lifter is performing heavy squat exercises inside of a squat rack, there are horizontal safety bars that are set to stop the fall of the bar and the weights if there is a problem. The horizontal safety bars inside of the squat rack, can prevent the complete and catasrophic failure of a knee or vertebrae, paralysis, death, and tremendous property damage. Without the squat rack safety bars, 400 lb to 800 lb landing on your neck or head if you slip, can be fatal.
When the women and children at the West River Community Center are taking up the squat racks using only the 45 lb bar for multiple sets of exercises, usually they don’t even have the horizontal safety bars set to help them in a fall. They don’t even really need the squat rack at all, and they are just tying up a strategic piece of training equipment and preventing others who really need it, from using it.
Most people do not know how much planning goes into even minimally competitive power lifting. Most all power lifters keep a journal/log book of completed training and planned training. They are on a very complex schedule of lift rotations, and weight levels. Whether it is squat, dead lift, or bench press, there are weeks of training with increasing weight, leading up to one specific day, and one specific time of that day, that they have set to attempt a maximum squat, dead lift, or bench press.
Adult men who are involved in power lifting, will think all week about a lift, their maximum weight attempt scheduled for a Friday at 5:00 p.m. when they get off of work. They will visualize a squat lift all week, and know all week that they plan on attempting 495 lb, 505 lb, the amount that they think they can achieve in a maximum effort for one repetition. This lift will be the culmination of weeks and weeks of training. But when they get to the West River Community Center at 5:00 p.m. on Friday to use the squat rack, there is some young lady doing squats with just the 45 lb bar, tying up the squat rack, and she doesn’t even need the squat rack.
In order to do something about this problem, Dave Clem a power lifting competitor in Dickinson, opened The Pit Gym in the Fall of 2017. Now I already wrote two paragraphs describing everything that the West River Community Center has, from the pools, basketball courts, cardio equipment, weight training equipment, men’s and women’s locker rooms. The only thing that the West River Community Center did not have, was a heavy weight lifting area for adult men, with no women and children around to get on dead lift platforms and squat racks that they did not need in the first place.
On this Saturday, 5/26/18, I was at The Pit Gym when two young men had brought their two young girlfriends with them. At first, I just tried to not pay attention to these two young women, but they were talking a lot, as this appeared to be a social outing for them, like a barbeque or going to the beach. One of the young women got on one of the bench press benches and was using just the bar with no weight. And the other young woman was all over the place, not even lifting weight most of the time, just being a distraction.
I was very angry about this, and I felt like saying to the two young men, “Are you trying to fuck this up just like the West River Community Center? The whole reason why this gym exists, is because women and children would go to the West River Community Center and get on the bench press benches, the squat racks, and the dead lift platforms, and use just the bar with no weight, fool around, and prevent other people from using the heavy weight equipment.”
I couldn’t fucking believe this. The Pit Gym is small, about 35’x 50′, it doesn’t even have locker rooms or a shower. All The Pit Gym has to offer, that is different than the West River Community Center and Anytime Fitness, are the two heavy-duty weight benches, the two heavy-duty squat racks, the dead lift platform, and the dumbbells pairs going up to 100 lbs, combined with the absence of women and children getting in the way.
If you introduce women and children into The Pit Gym, it has absolutely nothing to offer, and no reason to go there whatsoever, if all of the equipment is going to be taken up by women and children. If the squat racks, benches, and dumbbell area are going to be occupied by women, you might as well just go to the West River Community Center as it is cheaper, has more equipment, and more amenities.
I was angry and distracted by the two young women in The Pit Gym on Saturday. I left the gym without completing even half of my planned exercises, partly because I lost my focus, and partly because I did not want to do my exercises around these two young women because I thought that they might get hurt, or cause me to get hurt.
The behind the head curls that I was doing laying on my back on the weight bench, I thought that the one young girl using the adjacent weight bench was going to get hit with the bar because she did not know the range of motion that I was going to do. And I could see the same thing happening with the other young woman when I tried to do dumbbell flies.
Like I said, these two young women were treating this as a social outing, and I don’t think that they were paying enough attention or had been around weight rooms enough to know what I was going to do. Them walking into to me, the bar, or the dumbbells while I was in motion would not only have gotten them hurt, it might have gotten me hurt too.
I just left, and I was angry and disgusted. I went home and I updated the first blog post that I wrote about The Pit Gym back in December of 2017. I began thinking that maybe this is what Dave Clem and his wife Wendy want, to get as many people to join The Pit Gym as possible, even if this results in the exact same problems as what happened at the West River Community Center and Anytime Fitness in Dickinson.
I am going to finish this blog post by giving some complaints written by other people about gyms and fitness centers:
From Men’s Health, Lou Schuler 9/22/15
- The gym noob who sets her water bottle and clipboard on a bench isn’t trying to piss you off. She just doesn’t know better.
- A bit less forgivable are the five teens using a single leg press machine, but forming a cordon that blocks off three other stations.
- Or the young woman who sits on a machine for five minutes between sets because she’s returning texts.
- Don’t tie up equipment that you don’t need for the exercise that you are doing. The people who tie up squat racks when they aren’t even lifting. I’ve seen it used for stretches, or to hold onto while doing single-leg calf raises with their own body weight.
From Return of Kings, Kenzie Atkins 2/28/16
- I find nothing more frustrating than walking into the gym and finding it full of women and estrogen.
- Working out with other men increases your competitiveness and forces you to push yourself and improve your personal best.
- Let me set the scene—you have gone into the gym with the intention of working your legs, you have a set routine, and it’s coming up to the squat part of your workout. You go to the squat rack to find that it is being used by a woman who has a bar weighing 50 lbs. (She is using just the bar, with no weight.)
- We are all men, and let’s be honest we are often checking out women. There are some alright women in the gym and this can be a distraction during a time when we should be concentrating on our workout and improving ourselves.
- Mixed gyms discourage this kind of fellowship by changing the dynamic. Instead of the positive competitiveness of sport, there is a tendency to compete for the “cute” girl.
- Men only gyms would encourage the positive traits of brotherhood and support, while giving us a distraction free environment to improve ourselves.
I don’t know what is going to happen. Why can’t the women just stay over at the West River Community Center with the swimming pools, hot tub, tennis, racketball, basketball, volleyball, jogging track, exercise floor, aerobics rooms, yoga, cardio equipment, weight area, childcare, women’s locker room, women’s showers, and women’s toilets. They have way more equipment and amenities over there. Why the fuck can’t they stay the fuck over there?
This video shows a woman powerlifter who is serious.
This video shows a woman powerlifter who is not serious enough.
This video shows a woman getting hit with weights in the gym.
This video shows a woman taking up equipment and not using it for what it is for.
This video shows women being a distraction in the gym.