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The Advocate

I’ll Spot You

Or at the very least, I'll try...

Ryan Olson, Staff Writer

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I’ve always admired eccentric people. In middle school I proudly grew out my thick, curly brown hair to form a pseudo-afro, mop-like monstrosity on top of my head.  Was it attractive? No.  Functional? No. Hygienic? Probably not. I always believed, however, that self expression starts from the top down. And expression it was. My middle school self was a scrawny, theatrical kid, high on life and fueled by false illusions of grandeur.

As I entered high school, reality hit me head on; I needed to start lifting. Going to the gym was an activity that terrified me to my core. I never learned how to lift. Being surrounded by foreign, industrial grade equipment was an accident waiting to happen. Nevertheless I faced my fears head on and began traveling to the gym, with ever increasing frequency, in an attempt to muster enough physical strength to impress that cute girl in my English class.  I don’t think it worked.

While progress was slow, it was consistent. When I had started lifting, I only used the fixed weight machines. Free weights, such as bench presses and squats, looked like medieval torture devices. Over time however, I built up the courage to begin benching and squatting. My confidence level high, I slowly gained muscle mass and became more comfortable going to the gym. This leads me into this summer:

It started as a normal day. I woke up late in the morning, and lumbered groggily out of bed.  My dogs ran up to greet me as I filled their bowls with the meaty goodness of Blue Buffalo Wilderness dog food. I made my way into the bathroom, cranking my shower setting to a scorching hot temperature and letting it cover me in water. I dried myself off with a neon orange beach towel as the thick steam from the shower masked the air around me. Breakfast was quick- a muffin, banana, and some Chobani greek yogurt.  As I waited for the food to digest, I watched an episode of House of Cards. The pure power and authority demonstrated by Frank Underwood finally gave me the motivation to go to the gym.

    The Rochester Athletic Club is a beautiful facility. It’s weight training area boasts state of the art equipment surrounded by a smooth brown track. I entered the gym and headed straight to the locker room.  

My routine is consistent. I drop off my phone, wallet, and keys in my locker and run my headphones under my shirt, plugging them into my IPod. Water bottle in hand, I head to the weightlifting area and prepare for an hour of sweat and pain.

    My workout started like any other.  It was leg day, so I started with some squats followed by reverse lunges and a few RDL sets. As a stood recovering from a set, I watched as a strange man entered the weightlifting area. He was not a big guy, standing at most 5’ 11” and weighing in at approximately 175 lbs. He touted a prominent, and impressively large, man bun that appeared stiff and sturdy. I watched with curiosity as he began to load weights onto the bench press.

First 45 lbs.

“Makes Sense”

Then another 45 lbs.

“Okay that seems like a lot for a guy his size.”

Then 45 more lbs.

“This is definitely not safe.”

    Man bun man must have seen me watching him in horror because he began to approach me. As he did, I ran some quick calculations in my head.  45+45+45 = 135. Times two because there were three 45 weights on each side.  That’s 270 lbs. Plus the bar, an additional 45.  315 lbs total. That’s ridiculous. For reference, I bench 155 on a normal day. 315? That’s Dwayne “the rock” Johnson territory. Man bun man walked up to me and asked if I would spot him. My mind continued to run wild.

“Spot you? I can’t lift 315 lbs.  And I don’t think you can either.”

For some reason however, I agreed to spot man bun man and we walked towards the bench. As we did, the severity of the situation began to dawn on me:

“There is no way he can lift this. There is no way I can spot him.  He’s going to die and it’s going to be my fault.”

Man bun man laid down on the bench and let out a mighty groan. Then, the impossible happened…

This 175 lbs. man proceeded to lift almost double his body weight.  He did so with ease, and was never in need of a spotter. Afterwards I gave him a high five and we both went our separate ways.

The moral of the story is this:

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover in the realm of physical activities. Athletic ability is 0% genetics and 100% effort and attitude. If you want to succeed, go do it. Just make sure your spotter knows what they’re doing…

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