Barbell Hell


Kevin Cullen and Sam Cleasby

If you have never witnessed Paly’s weight room during tutorial, then allow me to describe what it is like for you. More than enough kids to surpass fire department safety standards crammed into a space with several tools and machines that could cause injury to oneself or others if misused. Now add underclassman, inexperienced with weight room techniques, and envision the impending chaos. Growing up in the technical boom has allowed these underclassmen to be susceptible to a variety of weightlifting videos such as Crossfit freaks doing backflips with dumbbells and landing unimpaired. These impressionable young minds are left with an unfounded confidence that is not welcome in the weight room. 

Lifting is a semi-dangerous practice that requires experience and focus in order to be carried out safely and effectively. Doing six reps of curls while messing around with your friends doesn’t follow this protocol, and yet, most underclassmen litter the weight room in small groups, conversing and fooling around while occasionally picking up a weight or bouncing on a yoga ball. These unproductive goons need to leave.

At the beginning of the year, freshmen were not allowed in the weight room during tutorial, only leaving some foolish sophomores hanging around to observe their athletic friend actually get a workout in. However, that rule is no longer enforced. We’re not aiming to discriminate against the underclassmen as a whole, but the majority of students taking up space in the weight room tend to be underclassmen. If people want to stand around and mess with their friends, a room filled with people trying to be productive is not the place to do it. Especially in an area where equipment is limited, it’s ideal to leave the equipment to those who will actually use it. 

These students also have the ability to take Athletic Conditioning with coach Fung, which is a class geared toward weightlifting. If an underclassmen wants to start lifting there is no reason why they shouldn’t sign up for this class. They will learn the proper techniques and strategies of exercising, and would leave the weight room open to upperclassmen during Tutorial. While this class is technically an option for upperclassmen as well, most students have finished their physical education credits, providing them with another class slot that can be more efficiently used by taking an interesting course or getting a prep.

Incentivizing underclassmen who are actually interested in weightlifting to take Athletic Conditioning will prevent many of the unsafe practices that underclassmen are displaying during their lifting sessions. We have witnessed various techniques carried by underclassmen that are not only ineffective, but could lead to physical harm. 

For some reason, these hooligans haven’t figured out what a “spotter” means, and appear to be trying to impress by throwing on insurmountable weight. When they inevitably fail, the bar collapses on them. If it wasn’t for us model upperclassmen who come to their rescue, these kids could sustain serious injury. However, at this point, the upperclassmen have developed a keen eye for potential lifting failures that could end in injury and are able to prevent most of them from happening before any consequential harm. If the underclassmen were taken out of the original equation, and taught proper techniques before trying them out independently, then not only would the underclassmen be getting more out of their lifts, but so would the upperclassmen, as they would be spending less time watching out for incompetence and more time using the available resources. The underclassmen could then become role models for future lifters using the weight room, as they would be exemplifying proper technique themselves.