This morning I had some stranger tell me I was doing a variation of a Romanian deadlift wrong. Yep, practicing alone at the gym and minding my own business, I had some guy never laid eyes on before (that I can recall, anyway) tell me I was doing the movement incorrectly.

Now, I typically have earbuds in my ears and someone has to either has to stand right in front of me, wave while I am looking in their direction, or tap me on the shoulder so I know they want to get my attention. I have to take the headset off to hear, as is probably true of most people in the gym.

I’m not sure when this guy came in because I was busy minding my own business and doing my sets. He was just another member using dumbbells near where I was working and at some point into my set he moved within my direct line of view when I straightened and motioned to his ears, which I took as a sign that he wanted to ask me a question. Since I was standing next to one of the benches but not actually using it at that point, I thought perhaps he wanted to ask for it, so I set down one of my dumbbells and pull out my earbud so I could hear what he was saying.

“You know you’re doing that wrong?” he said, motioning to my dumbbells. I was so startled I nearly dropped the other dumbbell and then thought for sure I had heard him wrong. My surprise must have shown on my face because he repeated himself before I had a chance to respond. “You’re doing that Romanian deadlift wrong,” he said again, and proceeded to show me how it is “supposed” to be done, with arms going forward to trace dumbbells along the legs. I know this one – J has trained me well on Romanian deadlifts and when it comes to the both feet on the ground version I have it down cold. However, J has also taught me another version, where arms are tight against the body to emphasize lats, and that’s what I happily engaged in doing when this stranger disrupted my practice.

After he was done demonstrating his correct method, I smiled what felt like my best version of polite and disinterested smile and said I was aware of that version, but “I train with J twice a week and he has taught me other variations, including what I’m doing right now.” Uncharacteristically dismissive, I then put my earbud back into my ear and picked up my other dumbbell, intent upon ignoring him.

Now I don’t read lips, but he spoke loudly enough that I could actually hear him when he closed with “okay, but you’re going to hurt yourself if you keep that up.” At some point he must have figured out I was truly ignoring him because he slunk out of the room, not even bothering to rerack the dumbbells he had been using. Asshole.

My karma must be bad or something, because I found this entire exchange to be a negative and insulting experience. I went back to my RDL and focused mightily on form and ignoring him. But inside I was alternating between fuming, wondering if I was remembering what I had learned last week, and fuming again for questioning my own memory based on some random stranger’s uninformed opinion. I finished my upper body sets, ran through my lower body sequence of the day, even did the dreaded core work, growing more upset by the encounter with every single rep.

I asked M about it when he got home from his run, because by then I was actually upset and feeling paranoid. (Nothing like an almost hysterical fuming unload on your unsuspecting husband the minute he walks in the door from a 12 mile run in the rain.) M’s sage advice was “f**k him; guy is an f**k-wad trying to impress you.” I thought I would let it sit until Monday’s session with J, at which time I would have asked him about the RDL just to be sure, but it had been bothering me all morning and I ended up texting him to put myself out of my own dog-chasing-tail misery. Yes, I was doing it right. J’s final assessment of the encounter was also “f**k him.”

If it were only so easy. And hopefully I will be over this idiot’s interference in the next 20 hours. I recognize I am allowing him too much power and influence, but crap, it is akin to one aspect my worst gym nightmare coming to life.


Perhaps it’s not my karma so much as a test of my persistence and mental/emotional health? My confidence is far too new and too fragile (apparently) to handle being challenged by some random stranger. Up until now everyone at the gym has been very nice, very kind, and very helpful to me. And it’s been hugely encouraging in calming whatever anxiety remains buried in my psyche. I will be back in the gym tomorrow morning, and I hope to have tossed off my discomfort and unsettledness before then. Because I am at least a little tougher than that, right? Was I too overconfident on my level of gym crazy? I must dial down my ability to overthink stuff like this, finish this post and push the incident away and behind me. Because I can go to the gym daily and do my practice, and I am not going to blow off practice or binge on sugar when I have a bad day. If I can create good habits and overcome bad ones, surely I can handle an unsolicited comment from an anonymous peanut gallery?

I’m trying anyway.

He is not one of many dozen faces I see routinely in the morning, but he was just generic enough that I’m not entirely sure I would recognize him immediately if our paths cross again. Ugh. People should really think before offering advice to strangers. I was not in any distress or danger of harming myself or others. Why would anyone say something so inane to a woman they do not even know and may never see again?

M’s right; he is an ass. But an ass who has managed to disturb my peace, and I have allowed/am allowing to disturb my peace.

Ugh. I hate this kind of stuff. Hate it, hate it, hate it.


8 thoughts on “The peanut gallery speaks

  1. girl, this happens all the time. not just to you , trust me. It’s done by egoistical gym rats who think they know everything and claim to be ‘fitness models’ and ‘personal trainers’. It’s all a bunch of nonsense. It happened to me too just yesterday infact! some guy actually told me to do a particular exercise. Yes. I didn’t know him either. loll. oh well. good thing on you to ignore him and not flare up! I’m a fitness blogger on here too btw!

    1. Tifness, THANK YOU! This was the first (and hopefully last!) time it has ever happened to me and it truly freaked me out. I started to wonder if I have some invisible sign that says BULLY ME that only asshats can actually see. Thanks for stopping by, and just to set the record straight – so NOT a fitness blogger here! I know enough to be dangerous, to myself or others, so I depend upon my trainer to teach me correct form and keep me on the better health pathway.

      1. ahh, I see. I’m so sorry that you felt that way! yes, egoistic pricks at the gym, definitely a pandemic going on! people who do that are themselves not even doing the right form tbh with you. oh and I just made a facebook page it would mean so much to me if you check it out and tell me what you think! thank you so much1 ❤ hope you had a great weekend! xxx

  2. This just happened the other week at my gym. I was warming up my shoulders with a series of exercises and this guy came over and proceeded to tell me I was doing them wrong and he had rehabbed a torn rotator cuff so he was an expert (yes he did say that). I thanked him and said my physical therapist and my trainer have me doing this and the rest of series – since I had been dealing with bad shoulders for over 5 years. He slunk away when he saw Trainer D coming. I’m not often quick witted but really leave me the f*ck alone in the gym – I don’t tell him how he is exercising wrong. Everyone is right – they are just assholes.

    1. I always thought this was one of those fears my neurotic brain generated. I would just NEVER presume to offer an opinion to someone I know, much less an absolute stranger minding her own business. But yeah, it completely sent me on a spin cycle and my gym crazy reared up and the experience was really upsetting, and even though I tried not to let it bug me, it did. Asshat.

  3. Hi J,

    Alls good the guys a fxxxer, don’t worry about him not worth it ,as you have been advised, this is to make him look good. What I do want you to be aware of is that this is mansplaning, I have copied
    the wiki def here “Mansplaining is a portmanteau of the words man and explaining, defined as “to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”[1][2] Lily Rothman of The Atlantic defines it as “explaining without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer, often done by a man to a woman,”[3] and author and essayist Rebecca Solnit ascribes the phenomenon to a combination of “overconfidence and cluelessness.”[4]”

    This is something that regrettably happens a lot and consistently, however I agree with m and j he can go and kindly amuse himself.

    Take care your doing swell in all your doing never let that be taken from you.


    1. Char, thank you for stopping by and for you kind comment. Made. My. Morning. It’s a new day and now that I got the “mansplaining” explanation, I am much better armed to go forth and do my practice in peace.

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