You Should Be Happy to See a Dudebro Curling in the Squat Rack: Why Elitism is Ruining Fitness for Everyone Else
As I see it, we have a pretty large, fundamental problem in our nation (and in many first world countries). I think many of us have become fatigued by the idea of being a nation of DIY-ers, a nation of people who pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I think we have become tired of this notion because well, life is hard. It is hard to keep pushing yourself upward and onward. And this fatigue has created a problem – we, as a nation, are settling. We are settling when it comes to our health (2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese), our relationships (50% of marriages end in divorce), our jobs (I experienced this working first hand working for the state government – very few people are actually willing to go the extra mile), our politicians (Do I seriously need to list names here?), our economy (Depression,, economic downturn, bubbles, etc) and our rights (Marriage equality is still not a thing; Women still get paid less on the dollar than men.) . It takes so much effort to just “survive” that is hard for anyone to fight for more. It takes time and energy to even just settle. We all are juggling so much as it is: employment, families, friends, basic and necessary tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping. And at the end of the day, it is very hard to not flop down on the couch and watch reality TV; I mean, you don’t have the time or energy to live your dreams, so you might as well live vicariously through someone else, right?
“What does this have to do with someone curling in the squat rack?” you ask. It does. I promise.
Story time: The other day I was at the grand opening of the gym that is in the basement of the office complex where I work. I was talking with my boss about the equipment and he admitted to me that his sister (a fellow powerlifting badass) makes fun of him because he doesn’t always squat below parallel. I, of course, made a few quips about how he was going to blow out his knees at an early age and how he shouldn’t let his ego get in the way. My boss responded with something that kind of took me aback, “You powerlifting snobs need to get your own gyms and leave the rest of us normal people alone.” His words woke me up. I mean, even though I was joking, I still was being a snob. Who the fuck am I to look down (even as a joke) on this man for not always squatting below parallel. He is WAY more athletic than I have ever been in my entire life (he runs, cycles, and lifts). (Side note: I still think his sister has the right to make fun of him because well, 1. she is his sister and 2. she is a marathoner-cyclist-powerlifting-trifecta).
Luckily for me, my boss is able to dish is right back. But upon looking back, what if I had said those quips to a less secure and sarcastic person? It would break my heart to know that I single-handedly hurt someone’s chances at being healthy by discouraging/mocking the way that they were doing things. And I don’t think most of you, dear readers, would be okay with doing that, either.
But here’s the rub. We already are. I am sure most of us have reposted or created or laughed at millions of memes like this:
I am sure most of us have ranted about how we wanted to squat, but there was some dudebro curling in the squat rack or how there was a guy ruining our concentration by grunting while partial squatting 225 with the neck pad in the Smith Machine. I am here to tell you that we, the fitness/powerlifting/weightlifting snobs of the gym, need to cut it the fuck out. If you read any fitness forum (and as Julia Ladewski pointed out here) there are a million programs out there and a million or reasons that any given person could be doing any given exercise in any given way. Also, you may have no idea where any given person is on their fitness journey. Additionally, maybe they just don’t know what they should be doing. There is so much fucking information out there that if you are a beginner, it can be really overwhelming. Maybe, even as an adult, they are just mimicking what they saw the cool kids from football doing during high school. And maybe, the dudebros never gained enough confidence about their knowledge to change their routines, so they stuck with what they knew. Plus, curling in the squat rack is really convenient. Furthermore, if you look at any fitness avenue anywhere on the Internet, you will find that it is full of people who are terrified of stepping foot in the gym because they are afraid of people like you and me – people who secretly (and sometimes, not so secretly) mock them. And because of their fears, many of them just don’t.
The next time you see a guy curling in your precious rack, instead of whipping out your phone to make rant on whatever social platform you use, I want you to take a moment and be grateful. You know why I want you to be grateful? Because El Dudebro is trying. He is putting in effort. He is working on improving himself and his situation (and the world around him because eye candy. Hubba hubba). In a world where we are surrounded by people, day-in and day-out, so willing to settle, we should sigh with relief and gratitude every time we see someone going the extra mile. We should be ecstatic to know that there are others around us who are also unsatisfied with the bullshit lies the world is constantly trying to feed us about how everything is hunky dory. Dudebro is taking action; he’s not settling. Dudebro’s biceps show the world his dedication to his curls in your beloved rack and they also signal his dissatisfaction with the status quo. Much like why you go to the gym, right?
So, before you freak out about all the “noobs” flooding your gym after the New Year or before you go medieval about a guy on the Smith Machine, just chill for a fucking second and recognize these people as your allies. We are all in this together. And maybe, just maybe, learn Dudebro’s name.