By Nick Nilsson
Author of 30-Second Ab-Solution
If you've ever been to a gym on a regular basis, you've no doubt witnessed some pretty bad exercise form at work.
But this story isn't about Dave - it's about a lady I'll refer to as "Phyllis" (though a better name might have been "Hurricane Phyllis"). It was a cold, winter morning when I witnessed this lady's horrendous workout at a big name gym in Chicago and I'll never forget it.
I was sitting on the stationary bike, doing a warm-up when she walked in, stuffed into a pink spandex outfit 3 sizes too small, wearing glittery high heels and marinating in perfume.
She walked directly over to the treadmill and started it up. I had never seen anybody walk on the treadmill in high heels before so I figured this would be worth watching. I was not to be disappointed.
"Phyllis" was doing fine for the first minute so I went back to reading my magazine. Then I heard this huge "THUMP! Thumpthumpthumpitythumpthump..." I turned and looked and there she was, crawling on her hands and knees as fast as she could, desperately trying to slap the shut-off button every couple of steps!
I jumped off the bike and ran over and hit the shut-off button. She stopped but the treadmill, of course, kept going, rolling her right off the back end and flipping her over on her back. She flopped around like a big, pink, overturned and confused turtle for a minute. It was really, REALLY hard not to laugh. "Phyllis" was fine. She thanked me and walked off, like this had happened a million times before.
And this was only the warm-up...
I got back on the bike. I had a feeling this lady was going to be a lot more entertaining than reading.
She hobbled over to the pulldown machine, sat down then pulled the pin out and threw it on the floor. Not looking to bulk up, evidently. She took a grip on the bar wider than even a double-jointed orangutan could manage safely then started pull down behind her neck.
Now, this exercise is not good for your shoulders to begin with but she didn't stop the bar at just her neck. She continued pulling the bar down behind her back until the bar was all the way down at her waist! I had never seen anything like it. She had turned the exercise into a wide-grip, behind-the-back pushdown. It was like she was trying to scratch her entire back with the bar. It was a good thing she had hardly any weight on the machine.
Ten useless reps later, she was done. My rotator cuff was aching just watching it. But instead of standing up with the bar and setting the one measly plate down gently, she just let it go and let that single plate crash down like a thunder clap. The bar whipped around and smacked her in the side of the head. Luckily for her, it seemed she had so much hair spray on that the bar just kind of bounced off - no damage done.
Without a backward glance at the weight pin still lying in the middle of the floor, she walked over to the free weights. At this point, I just knew "Phyllis" and free weights were not going to be a good combination - kind of like filling a child up with sugar, overstimulating them with games and cake, blindfolding them, spinning them around, giving them a hard club then telling them to swing at a cardboard animal filled with candy hanging at crotch level. Definitely not a good combination.
She picked up the lightest dumbbells on the rack (I think one of them may have actually been a plastic novelty pen shaped like a dumbbell and not actually even a real dumbbell).
She stepped back and started doing dumbbell lateral raises. Let me tell you, an albatross had nothing on this lady. She was flapping her arms so big, if she'd have had feathers, she would've been halfway to Mexico by the time she finished her set.
But alas, her grip must have been failing (and it was a good thing she was standing close to a cement wall and not a person) because the next thing I knew, she lost her grip on one of the dumbbells. It flew out of her hand and smashed into the wall with a huge CLANG then fell to the floor with and even bigger CLANG! She set the other dumbbell down and walked away, not looking the slightest bit embarrassed.
I thought I had seen everything. WRONG! The best was yet to come and she had only been in the gym 10 minutes.
She walked over to the adduction machine (the one that works the inner thighs), sat down and began doing reps. She must have done at least 20 sets of that single exercise over the next 30 minutes. Not a particularly good way to do this exercise but not dangerous in and of itself. It seemed to me like the party was over. Wrong again.
Somebody had evidently put it in this lady's head (though it was equally surprising that it didn't come directly out the other side) that doing squats would be a good thing for her. She went over to the squat rack (the open one, not the enclosed power rack - that, of course, would have been way too safe) and set herself under the bar.
Now, even before doing 30 minutes of adductions, I doubt this lady would have been very stable on this exercise. She took one step back with just the bar on her back then took another step, and another and another and another. She had totally lost her balance and was falling backward with every step.
Before anybody could react, she was stuttering out of the squat rack and falling backwards towards a rack of dumbbells. She crashed into the rack, lost her grip on the bar and dropped it behind the dumbbell rack with a huge SMASH!
Then she stood up, checked her hair in the mirror, pulled spandex out of her unmentionables, and hobbled out the door. I looked over at the weight room supervisor, who shrugged.
"Does she do that all the time?" I asked.
"No." he replied, leaning back in his chair. "Sometimes she has a bad day..."
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