Why This Gym Owner Didn’t Use a Barbell for 2 Months

March 15th, 2020. 63 days ago. That was the last time I touched a barbell for a workout. It’s been even longer since I was on the rig.

March 16th we left for a spring break trip. While on that trip, 2 states away, I got word of the order that gyms had to shut their doors, and I had to make plans to close the gym and transition our members to remote coaching.

My awesome team of coaches, along with the help of a very generous member/lawyer didn’t miss a beat implementing the plans I was sending them to get equipment checked out to members and making sure they understood we still had their backs. The coaches came in extra hours to take care of getting equipment to as many people as possible. (I know I say this all the time, but we have an awesome, selfless group of coaches and members.)

Once we made it back to Lubbock, and made sure everyone had an opportunity to get a couple pieces of equipment, Jasper and I grabbed a couple pieces for ourselves.

For the last 2 months, my workouts have consisted of only bodyweight movements that require no equipment (aside from a box), running, and dumbbell movements (with 35# DBs only). Most done in our driveway, neighbors watching and scratching their heads.

I’ve had some members ask why I wasn’t working out in the gym and using the equipment, we own it and pay for it after all. The answers are simple.

1) If our members can’t use use it, then we aren’t going to (solidarity, per se).

2) What better way can I show our members that we can still workout, stay fit, and even improve fitness than to do the same workouts I’m telling them to do?

3) It makes me a better coach.

Social media has no shortage of coaches posting workouts done in the gym with all the equipment. I understand their point of view. “There are perks with being a coach” they decide. And that could be a fair point, I suppose. I could easily argue that we bought all of this equipment, our coaches work hard, and we still have to pay the bills for rent and utilities. It’s true. But it’s about more than that. It’s about how our members would feel if we did that. It’s about doing what’s right, even when nobody is looking.

The second point sticks out to me over and over, every time I see someone demonstrating the opposite. You see, more owners get the point that it’s not the best look to have coaches or owners workout in the gym. So they say “if our members have to work out at home, we do too!” But the thing is, those I’ve seen making that statement on social media have a full set-up at home. Barbells and bumpers, pull-up bar or even a full rig, squat rack, rower, etc. and are using every bit of it. I totally get it, but I feel like that’s a missed opportunity. I try to lead by example. I feel like if I am going to tell my members that we can continue to deliver a great service and keep them fit despite their limited equipment, I should demonstrate that I actually believe what I’m saying, and subscribe to it. My workouts for the last 2 months have consisted exclusively of the unloaded, partially loaded, or weekly challenge workouts we have been giving our members that have minimal-to-no equipment. And guess what? They have been AMAZING! With nothing more than a set of dumbbells and a box, I have done SO MANY fantastic workouts. I have no doubt in my mind that if our members are doing these workouts, they are making progress on their overall fitness. No barbell or rig or rower necessary.

The 3rd point, how it makes me a better coach, is easy to explain. Think about any skilled profession. Nursing, police work, teachers, military personnel. Over time, many tools have been invented to help make their job a little easier, perhaps more efficient, etc. But when the best in those professions are suddenly limited in tools and only have access to the very basics, they find a way. They adapt. They are forced to up their game in every other area, and they now have that experience in their toolbox. Many people can come up with a workout when they have lots of tools at their disposal. But what about when the tools are limited, for 2 months? What about when someone has a 35# dumbbell, a box (or something to use as a box), and that’s it? Can I still challenge them? Can I still find ways to help them improve their strength (because that’s their goal)? Can I avoid giving them the same 7 exercises to do over and over? Why, yes. Yes I can. And part of the way I do that is by putting myself in that situation. If I have all the equipment at my disposal, it might get very difficult to see things from the view of that client with just a couple options. But, since I limited my equipment as well, it became much easier to see the wide array of options and variations, and to also understand where some of the limiting factors might be. Same goes for delivering coaching remotely versus in person. That is a challenge all it’s own. It requires a much different skill set than coaching a group class in person. But, it adds a tool to the toolbox. The more tools a coach has in their toolbox, the better coach they can become! And who doesn’t want to get better?!

I write all of this not to dismiss the effectiveness and benefit of having a variety of training equipment, but to share with you why I chose to only do workouts that the majority of our members could do. Of course, some of our members have a full set-up, and that is awesome! We continued to give them workouts that contained a mix of equipment because in a perfect situation that is the best option, that provides the most well-rounded fitness. That’s why we have all that fancy equipment, after all. And while we will likely return to some overall strength losses (for those of us without access to a full weight set), it will be minimal- we won’t be starting from scratch. We will get those small losses back, likely within just a month or two if we are smart about our approach! In the meantime, so many of you have actually improved other areas of your fitness, and that should not be overlooked! I am really proud of how well our members adapted to this situation, and it’s humbling to think about how you trusted us through the entire process.

~Melissa

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