A Call For Respect, A Call To Come Together


It is with genuine disappointment and visceral anger, that I write this.

By the time you get to reading this article you’ll have already heard that just four days ago a gym member of Buzzfit over in Montreal, Quebec, CA, was assaulted by another gym member…and all because his deadlifting was too loud.  If you’ve yet to see the video, here it is now:

Tell me…did your blood boil upon watching this, like mine?

The young man seen deadlifting in this footage which has since has not only gone viral, but made into news stories on major outlets such as Fox News, The Daily Mail, Canoe and Newsweek, Charles Lalonde, is actually a client of powerlifter Pete Rubish.  Therefore he was performing a customized program that was set up by Pete just for Charles to follow.  According to Pete Rubish himself there had been some issues between Charles and gym management regarding Charles’s deadlifts being too loud.  The management were in fact willing to let Charles continue to deadlift under the condition that he placed mats on the floor to reduce the noise, to which Charles agreed.  So on this day, when Charles was deadlifting 375lbs with mats underneath the plates, someone clearly annoyed with the sound of the plates hitting the floor decided to play the part of Commercial Gym Hero.

This punk walked up to Charles and kicked the bar out of his hands, potentially hurting not just his wrists, as he happened to be wearing straps, but his back as well (and Charles did say that he’s currently experiencing some back pain thanks to this coward).  He then proceeded to yell at him that he had to leave because he was “ego lifting”, followed by shoving Charles hard against the wall when Charles stood up for himself.  Since then, not only was this punk banned from the gym for life, but an employee was suspended as well, for not getting involved sooner than he did.  Buzzfit also offered Charles and his entire family a free lifetime membership.  Charles is also pressing charges against the punk who assaulted him.

There were some people who believed that the man who attacked Charles was a Buzzfit employee.  He wasn’t.  He was just an ordinary gym member, therefore he had absolutely no business telling Charles that gym management wanted him out because it clearly wasn’t the case.  Besides, I doubt any employee would be stupid enough to put their hands on any gym members and happily risk loosing their jobs over it.  Just understand that the moment in which he kicked the bar out of Charles’s hands and shoved him against the wall, he set himself up for assault charges.

Just last year I published an article (see the link below) called The Three Things I Wish I Knew Upon Entering The Fitness World.  On the top of the list was the notion that you should never fear your fellow man in the gym.  I had said that despite my fears that I’d be stared at with looks of disgust for not doing anything right, I actually made some friendships that have lasted longer than a decade now, as well as meeting people who were more willing to help me strive in fitness then anyone ever was in music or any of my other endeavors.  It was the first time in my life that I understood the true meaning of the word Community.  We all got together and pushed each other to our limits, picking each other up when we were down and elevating each other when we couldn’t do it on our own.

An incident such as what happened in Montreal goes against the very grain of everything I just mentioned.  If it were I who heard Charles Lalonde deadlift, I wouldn’t storm over to him, hurt him and scream at him to leave.  I’d instead politely ask him if I could show him how to control his descent, as to finish each rep in a more controlled and even safer (for his wrists) fashion.  For the record, I know exactly what he’s doing improperly because it’s a problem I had and didn’t pay attention to for years.  But that’s irrelevant.  And if he were to rudely tell me no or something more vulgar, I’d then let management handle it, like a normal functioning person, knowing that it’s not my place to take matters like this into my own hands.

What this punk did is most likely something he’d done before and wasn’t dealt with then, most likely making him feel like he could do whatever he wanted and get away with it every time.  It’s even being argued right now that the bully in this situation was most likely insecure, and all because he can’t pull the weight Charles was, or at all.  Situations like this must be dealt this before the poison is allowed to spread, because punks like him are the reason that any average gym member looking to get into fitness for the first time decides he doesn’t want to go to that gym or any gym for that matter.  It kills business for that gym, and it gives the rest of us a bad reputation.  At that moment I couldn’t blame anyone for being anxious about the gym atmosphere – there’s a reason Planet Fitness exists.

I am disappointed to say, however, that this kind of prejudice does not just start and stop in the world of commercial gyms.  It sometimes might happen in more intimate settings as well.  Without getting into detail, I speak from experience as I actually dealt with this in my own gym, in where another gym member, who does in fact deadlift, and is in fact really strong, decides apparently that there are certain pieces of equipment that shouldn’t be touched by anyone whose strength and power levels aren’t up to snuff with his.  I’d like to think it’s just immaturity, as I know I’m older than him.  But once again, it’s irrelevant, for there’s no reason to be intolerant of anyone’s strengths or weaknesses.  For all that kid knows, that one guy using his favorite bench for “just” 160lbs could one day hit double that number.  For all we know the guy might share the intolerant lifter’s aspirations and passion.

So I’m making a call right here.  I’m calling for all lifters: Powerliftiers, Bodybuilders, General fitness, Crossfit, Strongman, Sports specific.  It’s times like this that require that we all come together to remind ourselves that, regardless of our extrinsic goals, we all have one very common, universal goal: self improvement.  Lets not forget that even the strongest person in the world started out as that scrawny, weak person, filled with major insecurities.  There’s absolutely no room for anyone to either prey on those insecurities or take their insecurities out on anyone who makes them feel threatened.

Feeling insecure?  Instead of trying to hold down someone who knows more than you, take a moment and try to learn from that person, so you too can do all the things he or she can…or maybe even surpass them.  If you’re spotting someone and they couldn’t get that lift, encourage them to try again next time.  Hell, give that guy pointers on how to improve, he might appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.  On the reverse side of things, if you see someone struggling on a lift, don’t laugh at them or look at them at disgust.  Get over there because they might need help, or at least an extra mental push.  That’s exactly how I befriended someone in my own gym just a few months ago.  He was performing cambered bar box squats, complete with resistance bands.  Pure Westside style!  When I saw him struggling through the mid point of a rep I ran over there to help him feel secure enough to push through, and push he did!  I could tell he meant it when he thanked me, knowing I understood him and was going to make sure he kicked ass.

This is a call for all of us who train in the gym, striving to be the best we can be, to remember where we all came from.  Bullies, by nature, are insecure and cowardly; when it comes to a culture as often misunderstood as the Gym culture, we simply cannot afford for punks like the one who harassed and assaulted Charles Lalonde in Montreal to continue to perpetuate the stereotype that we all are bullies.  With the exception of three people I’ve met in the last few years, my experience of training in many different gyms has provided me with fifteen years worth of memories and friendships more meaningful to me than anything else that I might’ve been through in that time.  Those experiences are the types that anyone entering a gym for either the first time or to finally hit that goal of deadlifting the house all have the right to know.  For some of us, the gym is our true home, lets not destroy it with bad press.  Don’t be a bully, because I for one have zero tolerance for it.

Click here for the above mentioned article:

The Three Things I Wish I Knew Upon Entering The Fitness World

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