Loud, clanky weightlifting can be one of the most contentious topics for people at chain gyms unaccustomed to serious training. But no matter what you think, no one should ever react like this guy, caught on video at Montreal-area gym Buzzfit earlier this month:
The assailant, who is not named in a report from The Montreal Gazette about the incident, marched straight up to 19-year-old Charles-Antoine Lalonde mid-deadlift and kicked the bar out of his hands. Understandably, Lalonde did not react kindly to the dangerous assault, and the two men argued loudly before Lalonde gathered his gear (including his phone, which recorded the whole exchange) and left the gym.
Lalonde was taking video of his lifts for his online strength coach, Tennessee-based Pete Rubish, who then shared the tense encounter on YouTube, where the clip has racked up over 2.2 million views.
According to the report, this was just the culmination of a weeks-long dispute between Lalonde and other gym-goers over the volume of his deadlifts. Lalonde had adjusted his routine after noise complaints, placing mats under the barbell to deaden the sound of the plates on the ground. He didn’t grunt or yell in the footage (which can actually help your lifts, even if it is annoying) and he controlled the barbell to keep it on the pads underneath. Short of totally cutting deadlifts from his workouts, there was nothing more Lalonde could have done to make his lifts less offensive to the rest of the gym.
After the video of the confrontation made news, the assailant was reportedly banned from Buzzfit, and a gym employee was also suspended for two weeks [WHY?]. Local police are looking into the incident as well.
This shouldn’t need saying, but you should never disrupt someone mid-lift. If they’re using improper form or failing during a set, feel free to jump in and offer a spot. If they’re grunting loudly or doing something you don’t like — but that won’t hurt them or anyone else — mind your own business until they’ve finished their work.
Part of the problem seems to be that the facility’s management does not understand strength training. Buzzfit head of operations Craig Johnson told the Gazette that the gym is not suited for powerlifters. “Eighty percent of our members are first-time gym users… We are not equipped for the hardcore workout he was doing. He was lifting at an elite level of powerlifting, which requires specialized facilities.”
Credit to Lalonde for his workout, but to call a basic deadlift set “elite” and in need of “specialized facilities” is laughable. Contributing to the ridiculousness of the video is that the assailant was wearing a weight belt, which is only necessary during the heaviest attempts at spine-taxing Olympic lifts — exactly the type of exercise Lalonde was attempting during the incident. Wearing a belt around the gym while attempting to ban an Olympic lift like the deadlift indicates that along with being an asshole, the assailant has no idea what he’s doing in the weight room.
Every gym has different rules of decorum fit for their clientele. Some places are filled with iron-clanking lugs who scream through every rep, while others are quiet zones, where you’ll never hear much more than the whoosh of a treadmill. The problem with the Buzzfit incident is that it appears that the management did not communicate its standards with Lalonde, causing the conflict.
If exercise is a priority for you, you should know exactly what type of behavior is appropriate for the space you’re in. Sometimes that means that you won’t be able to do powerlifting workouts in a chain gym, so you’ll hopefully be able to find a new place to call home.
Thankfully, Lalonde has found a new home at a powerlifting gym where his relatively quiet deadlifts will probably go unnoticed amid the din that typically comes in any place filled with people lifting heavy loads.
If you find yourself in a position where someone is working out in a way that doesn’t fit the space, don’t be a jerk like the guy in the video — unless they’re going to hurt themselves or someone else just put your headphones on and get back to your workout. If you’re the odd man out and deadlifting isn’t allowed, you should find yourself a new gym.
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