The Waistline Warrior Project Dale 2.0 Part 2

Wasting time in the global gym and barbell exercises in Part 1 of this article (rant) were only part of what the recent journey.  Like most people, I have no room or desire to have a gym at the house and already have a gym membership. If this battle against the bulge were to succeed, I needed access to my preferred method of exercise, barbell training. And not only access, but the ability to get the work done without endless waiting for the few pieces of equipment that my current gym used.

After leaving the gym in frustration, I went home and surfed the net looking for a gym that would meet the parameters mentioned in Part 1. Having just started using the highly regarded Starting Strength method of training, it would be nice to find a place that had the proper equipment and lots of it. Surfed around the net and found a couple of places worth checking out and made plans to visit them during the times I could train.

Having already decided to check out a few gyms, I went back to surfing the Starting Strength website to find out when and where they had seminars for coaching in proper exercise form. Lo and behold out of the eleven Starting Strength gyms in the world two happen to be in Maryland! Now that changed everything. They were farther than I wanted to travel, 40 minutes to one hour, but the goal is more important. At least I could check one of them out because there were other options closer.

Several evenings later I made the trek to Baltimore and visited Fivex3 Training and was immediately greeted by Diego who asked if he could be of any help. As I looked around I could tell this was the kind of place where people came to better themselves. There were no endless rows of  machines , and people were actually training, not pumping and primping. Told Diego that I was interested in training and I was introduced to the owner Emily Socolinsky. She was very kind and gracious with her time, answered a TON of questions and a half hour later I was out the door.

It was a struggle for over a week. I had goals that I wanted to attain but I am also currently debt free. Did I want to spend the money? Did I want to drive 40 minutes just to get there? I had the time, I had the money. My current gym membership was useless since one could not count on being able to use the equipment. The coaching would help insure that one could lift in proper form and progress through the system in the best possible manner. So on my birthday last month I made the call and signed up.

Part 3 will go into the basics of Starting Strength method and what its like training at Fivex3 in Baltimore.

The Waistline Warrior Project or Dale 2.0…Part 1

It was all the fault of the “Globolgym”.  You know, the large chain that I have a lifetime membership to. When I joined back in 1984 it was Holiday Spa, then it was Bally’s now it is something that will remain un-named. Each iteration removed more of my beloved free weight equipment, replacing it with soulless machines. From a business standpoint this is great. Your instructors don’t really have to know physiology or spend time teaching people to do a barbell lift correctly, don’t have a ton of weights lying around and you can move people in and out fast.

But, I still believed in the magic of free weights and the benefits of using them in ways that mimic real life. Movements that move weight and utilize balance. Efficient movements that train whole muscle groups at one time.  Not some artificial axis, groove or plane determined by a machine to isolate a particular muscle.

So, I waited…..again for a chance to get in the power rack and move some iron. Again, wasting time because the equipment that would do most gym members the most good have been replaced with a machine. Time I could be building strength and muscle instead of watching people flail away on a machine with the same weights they used last week, last month and probably last year. Then I got angry with the waiting and left.

Having belonged to a gym for years, I learned a long time ago that lifting free weights was the best way to improve your body, it’s strength and its look. Progressive weight training with a barbell stresses your body in way that can’t be duplicated by a machine. Let’s use the king of exercises the squat and compare it to a leg press.

Muscles worked in leg press
Muscles worked in leg press

The pictures show that you work both your quadriceps and your gluteus muscle groups in the leg press. A decent exercise as far as machine exercises go. But compare it to a squat.

squat diagram.
Muscles worked in the squat.

Look at how many more muscles are worked in the squat. You hit the same quads and glutes but also back, shoulders and abdominals are called in to assist. This is a picture of a front squat but the preferred back squat works a few more muscles. (couldn’t find a picture.) Don’t know about you, but if I am busting my butt in the gym, I want to get more work done in less time. Exercises that work more muscle groups at one time are more efficient than doing multiple exercises that work one or two muscles at a time. Compared to the leg press, the squat is an exercise bargain.

Back to the gym, or actually leaving the gym in disgust. Went right home and got on the computer to find a gym that offered more real weight training equipment. I knew from past experience that a person could train on three to five exercises and make more progress in a shorter amount of time with the right system and equipment. My must haves were;

  1. Must have enough free weights so waiting was a thing of the past’
  2. Must be newbie friendly. Even though I trained years ago, I am 55 and have lapsed back to “beginner”.
  3. Must be reasonably close.

In the next installment we will cover what I found in my area.