Weight and Resistance Training - Short on Guts: Barbell Club

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12-08-2011, 10:05 PM
I found a barbell club near me with great prices. It's nothing but lifting equipment, there are chalk buckets, and they don't care if people drop the weights. I like the idea of going somewhere the serious lifters go - I figure I'm likely to get better tips there and it just seems like something fun and different. Plus, the price is truly incredible and that matters right now, plus the location and hours are convenient.

So I went to visit the other night.

It's a huge basement with beat-up equipment everywhere. I walked around and wasn't sure what I was looking at. The deal is that you join and you can use the facilities - there is no orientation or friendly/annoying trainers in polo shirts wandering around or anything like that. It's just a bunch of equipment in a basement. Just what I want.

There were only men in there, although I didn't feel unwelcome at all and the few people I talked to were very nice and didn't seem surprised to see a woman. A relatively well-known woman power lifter trains there, so I guess they're used to women.

As I drove home, I tried to imagine what it would feel like to walk in there alone, load a bar, and lift. I just can't bring myself to do it alone (thus my other thread about workout buddies). I don't know what I'm doing - aside from good form, I don't know how to put plates on bars or when to use chalk and there's probably a lot that I don't even *know* I don't know! I normally don't mind looking stupid, but about this, I do.

There's a trainer who's closely associated with the facility and I could hire him to show me the basics, which might make me feel more comfortable in that place since he'd show me where stuff was and how to put it together. Money *is* an object, but I could just do the one session with him (and a friend of mine might share the session). I'm turning that over in my mind.

I really want to lift and I want to lift heavy. I have to find it within myself to make up my mind and just go do it.

I don't know what I'm looking for with this post. Just sharing my experience (i.e. fears). Maybe someone will have some wisdom that will help me get my glutes into this cool place to do this cool thing. I'm just a little short on guts.

12-09-2011, 01:35 AM
Sounds like my kind of place. If you are still fairly new than getting the trainer to give you an orientation session and show you a few basics would be a great idea. Learn how to properly do the basic, big bang for your buck exercises like the squat, deadlift, military press, etc and master your form on those and add some exercises in now and then.

After that, don't feel intimated to ask someone for advice (or a spot). Judging from your description of the place, I think you will be surprised just how willing people will be to help you. You can never go wrong around powerlifters. They are among the most helpful and supportive people you can find and they don't judge you by how much you lift, only by how hard you work. Work your butt off and you will fit right in.

12-09-2011, 11:18 PM
The only person who can really prevent you from lifting and lifting heavy is...yep I don't even have to say it...

Honestly, if the vibe you felt there was fine then do it. It's an opportunity to learn and explore something that you really want. Check out the blog article.. "Be Different"


Oh! And hire the coach. At least for a couple of sessions.

12-12-2011, 09:17 AM
I emailed the trainer to arrange for a session and I found a friend to come with me. Even if she flakes after a time or two, it will be fine. It's really just the first couple of visits that will be scary.

I took progress pics for the first time ever last night and was horrified. I am very eager to get into that gym and under some iron.

12-12-2011, 05:46 PM
Awesome. And your right. Just to have someone with you the first time or two will be enough to make you feel comfortable. Best of luck as you work toward your goals. I'm also doing new programming for myself...the warmer months always sneak up on me.

12-16-2011, 01:19 AM
Update: I just got home from the first visit to the barbell club. So glad I did this!

My friend and I were supposed to meet the trainer there. We arrived on time and waited 20 minutes. Then I checked my email and realized that we'd gotten our wires crossed and he thought the session was supposed to be a week from tonight.

I didn't want to leave without doing something. After all, we'd worked up the nerve to come in and hung around for 20 minutes, it felt like leaving would doom us forever to fail at this.

But we had no idea what to do. There was no one in charge around at that point and the only people there (men - great big men) were busy with their own workouts (using massive plates, btw - no way were we going to interrupt any of them).

So when one of the guys was in between sets, I asked him if we could just get started and fill out the paperwork when somebody was around. He said sure, so we put our stuff away and went to the dumbbell corner.

I had the Simply Shredded Female Fitness program in my iPhone and the first workout could be done with just dumbbells, so we decided we'd do that. We figured we couldn't hurt ourselves too badly with dumbbells. We didn't know some of the exercises, so during rests I used my iPhone to find YouTube videos of them. I'm a coach in another sport and also I've learned a little about form in my KB classes, so I have a basic understanding of how to stay safe and which muscles to activate.

As soon as we got started, it was totally fine. We just did our thing, other people did their thing, and all was well. We both felt so empowered by doing this at all, and especially by doing it on our own.

I have KB tomorrow night and my friend is busy over the weekend during the hours the club is open, so our next session is Monday. I'm not sure how we'll do that one -- if we stick with Simply Shredded, we'll need to use some equipment that we're not familiar with (leg extensions, leg curls - and my friend is absolutely tiny, so I'm not even sure she can use those machines safely). I'm really more interested in the big lifts, but until we get time with a trainer, the Simply Shredded program seems like a good way to get our feet wet. The bar is intimidating. I know how to deadlift, but I don't know how to use the squat rack yet, or how to bench press or to spot my friend on the bench press.

So, in summary, it was a good experience and, in a way, it was even better that we did it on our own instead of having the trainer shepherd us -- mentally better, I mean, not in terms of the effectiveness of the workout. It feels like a victory; we overcame our nervousness, got down to business, and completed the first step of our fitness plan. I'm really happy, and the encouragement I received in this thread was extremely helpful. Thank you all! You were with me in spirit, and I was especially guided by the comment that if I went in and worked hard, I'd have nothing to worry about. So that's what I did.

12-16-2011, 10:37 AM
It felt like a victory because it was :dance: Congratulations!

My experience in my gym is that those big men lifting really heavy weights are mostly friendly, helpful and ready to teach a few things when asked.

I'm often the only woman in the weight lifting area and have friendly exchanges with the men, as well as some "trash talking." I'm there doing overhead presses at 55# and you would think it was hundreds of pounds with the encouragement I get. That could be because I'm 66 and they are amused to have an "old lady" with them, but there is a lot of mutual regard and respect going on.

12-16-2011, 03:43 PM
I'm so excited that you did this for yourself and your friend. Totally love that you stayed and followed your own plan. What a great feeling that must have been on the way home. Here's the other thing...you own this now. While it is important to receive guidance on how to lift properly, it takes a lot of courage to stick around the gym and experiment with things. But once you become comfortable with the idea that it's okay try new things (safely) you totally own your workouts.

So glad you found this space and I hope you continue to have great experiences there!

01-13-2012, 11:43 PM
I have to say that I'm really impressed that you have the courage to workout at a barbell club. I'd be intimidated by all the guys with biceps the size of my head!

Anyway, I wouldn't let not knowing the basics stop you from going. A lot of the stuff you mentioned is way simpler then you would think. For instance the weights have holes on them and you just stick the barbell into the hole and alternate putting a weight on either sides so it doesn't fall, it really isn't a science. And chalk doesn't have a use for beginners, by the time you'll need it you will know how to use, trust me.

For everything else I would just search through a powerlifting forum to see if they have the answers.

01-16-2012, 01:04 AM
Mmm, the guys with biceps the size of my head are a *plus*!

I went alone the second time & every guy in the place came over to chat. How friendly, I thought. Then a few days later I went alone again & another guy said, "I heard a blonde with hooters had joined." I just laughed at him & told him he'd better be able to take it as well as he could give it. Then he said he & his sister work out there together on Mondays & I could join them if I wanted.

Since then, I've been there both alone & with my friend. The guys have been helpful. I do see them watching out of the corners of their eyes when I dead lift. I'm not bothered by that - I understand that I'm a novelty & that will wear off fast enough.

All in all, I love the place. I'm making strength gains & I feel more confident about my body than I ever have before. I want to get really strong.

01-31-2012, 03:12 PM
So glad you found a place like this, yoyo, that sounds like my dream gym! From my experience, the really big lifters are generally very helpful, encouraging and supporting of women getting into weightlifting. If you enjoy barbell training, I recommend you look into programs like Starting Strength or StrongLifts. The first has a book that details all the basic barbell lifts, the second has a training program that is free on their website (the difference is not that big between them). I've tried both, right now I'm on Starting Strength and close to qualifying for the wussiest powerlifting level in my weight category (after 4 weeks of picking up the slack).

Yay for more women weightlifting. Strong is the new sexy!

01-31-2012, 09:40 PM
Best of luck on your competition! That is fantastic.

I am still loving lifting. I'm definitely stronger and I can feel muscles when I move. I feel happy when I'm in the gym. & I'm learning to push myself. I'm not doing Starting Strength yet because I'm still working on some functional movement limitations - squats are really hard for me because my ankles don't bend as much as they should. I do goblet squats instead, but they don't work the body the same.

One thing that's mystifying me is this: I haven't lost weight and my waist measurement is the same. I've lost an inch off my hips. My jeans are looser in the legs, but there are no other measurable changes. But I think I look different Better. Tonight I was in a store & caught a glimpse of myself in a distant window & when i realized that I was seeing myself, I was surprised. I looked smaller. Am I deluding myself or is adding a little muscle under a lot fat enough to make a visible difference? This is driving me nuts!

Edited to add: my friends say I look smaller but I never believe them because they're my friends - not objective.

02-01-2012, 08:35 AM
It sounds like your body composition is changing; muscle mass is increasing and fat is decreasing. Muscle is denser than fat, which accounts for you looking and feeling smaller with no notable changes in body weight. This happened to me when I first started weight training - in 2 months I added almost 9 lbs to my weight but the body fat went down by 2 percent and my measurements were smaller, so the added weight was mostly muscle.

02-01-2012, 11:19 AM
That's comforting. I admit I'm really frustrated by not seeing the scale or the waist measurement change.

What made you decide to compete? Are you nervous, excited, or both?

02-01-2012, 04:04 PM
I'm not competing, I'm just using the official powerlifting classification numbers as a target for myself. I reached the lowest threshold today, so now I'm aiming for the next class. If after a few months I've made considerable progress I might consider competing, just to test myself.

Regarding weight and body composition, I think this blog is a great illustration on why we should throw those scales out the window: http://nerdfitness.com/blog/2011/07/21/meet-staci-your-new-powerlifting-super-hero/

02-02-2012, 02:08 AM
I've seen that blog -- she's inspirational. I actually used that link to persuade some friends to join in personal training sessions with me. And it worked!

You have a great goal. I'm going to check out those numbers and get inspired. My trainer was talking the other day about setting concrete goals and how, without them, there won't be any progress. My goals right now are to deadlift 200 lbs (I'm at 187 right now), squat with weight on the bar while maintaining good form, and do one proper push-up. Oh, and a 5-minute plank.

02-05-2012, 05:23 PM
LOL about your post talking about annoying trainers walking around in polo shirts.

When you meet with your personal trainer, mention that. It's always good to be honest and they'll know that you didn't hire them for fluff - you hired them because you mean business.

One of the most annoying traits I see amongst trainers at my gym is that they'll cater to cream puff attitude if that's what they perceive. We (trainers) are actually trained to do so because it brings a client who wants that back with money. You seem to just want to get your service and move on. Make sure you get what you pay for. It's important and easy to get enough basic information in 3 sessions to be able to move on on your own.

Don't get sucked in to multiple sessions if that's not what you want.

A quality trainer should have enough education to teach you all that you need in 2 hours. Those two hours are best utilized staggered over 3 weeks. Session 1, practice that for 2 weeks, then session 2.

02-07-2012, 05:32 PM
I'm so jealous, lol. I'd love to workout in an atmosphere like that, where people are really serious about lifting, even if I was in the minority as one of the few females. But alas, I workout in my own basement...for now. ;)