It’s been a while since I last did an installment of Tales From the Glitter Gym. For background on what a Glitter Gym is read Glitter and Rust. After just 3 visits to the 24 Hour Fitness in Bellevue, WA (140th Ave NE), I have enough stories for a new installment of Tales From the Glitter Gym. Before I start, I would like to point out that the 140th Ave gym is a total disaster. Dumbbells are thrown on the floor. Nobody racks their weights. It’s easily the most neglected Glitter Gym I’ve ever seen.

The great Harry Smith of South Tampa’s Smith Health Club would go ballistic if he saw the way the patrons treated the free weight area here in Bellevue. Back in the mid-1990s, I saw him scold more than one South Florida steroid monster for failing to rack their weights. And they feared him. Harry didn’t run a Glitter Gym. At a Glitter Gym, the customer is always right. At Harry’s Gym, only Harry is right. Ahh, the good ol’ days.

We have three new inductees to the Glitter Gym Hall of Shame.

The Punk Rocker

Gyms play lousy music. Deal with it. But if you can’t get an iPod. Our friend the punk rocker had a different idea, which I’ve never seen done before. He was blasting rock music from his open cell phone. So if you were in the free weight room, you heard the gym playing some soccer mom ballad and the pseudo-punk coming from this guy’s phone. It had the sound quality of an AM transistor radio.

Why work out to one lousy song when you can lift to two lousy songs played at the same time?

If that wasn’t rude enough, the guy used one bench for himself and one for his phone. Like it was his little workout buddy. Yo Nokia, can you play me some Stink 182 and then come spot me on this lift?

Dummy Dead-Lift

This one left me speechless. A proper deadlift is done with your feet firmly planted on the floor. At a gym, this is done from one of the cages. You load up the weight, walk it out, place it on the floor, and then begin the exercise. I thought this was common sense. Not for Dummy Dead-Lift. This guy climbed up onto a padded flat bench, pulled the weight from the back, and proceeded to do deadlifts while balancing on the bench with a 2-inch stance.

If a typical deadlift goes wrong, the weight is released and it falls to the floor. It makes some noise, but it is perfectly safe for bystanders (unless you’re one of those annoying women who do walking lunges with your pink dumbbells behind the cages – stop it already!).

If Dummy Dead-Lift had lost the weight, it would have fallen onto the bench. And depending upon how it fell, it would have caused one side to crash to the floor, while launching the other side up in the air. Did he collar the weights? No. That means the plate could have come off the bar and been a projectile flying across the weight room.

Baby Bicep

Perhaps I can get a ruling from an experienced personal trainer on this exercise? A man crawled into the fetal position on an open bench at the gym today. With a 5 or 10 pound dumbbell, he proceeded to do super-slow bicep curls. It went on for over 10 minutes.

I’ve been going to gyms for almost 15 years. I’ve never seen anything like this done before. How would being in the fetal position improve this exercise? He didn’t appear to have large biceps or else I might have started doing Ultrasound Curls myself.

Legacy Comments


You’re killing me. And don’t knock my pink dumbbells 🙂

Seriously thought, the personal trainer in me isn’t coming up with any particular benefit to the fetal position. For a while there, the fitness industry was arguing for flat backs when doing exercises in the supine (on your back) position. It’s turned recently as people have realized that having a completely flat back is unnatural and trainers are aiming to preserve the natural “S Curve” to the spine and working with clients to engage the core when doing all movements to support the spine.

The only real benefit to having a flat back (nearly achieved in this fetal position) is that it is preferable to hyper-extending the back and putting a lot of stress on the lower spine.

As a shorter person, whenever I’m supine on a bench, my legs are reaching to touch the ground and forcing my back into hyper-extension. To avoid this during bench presses and the like, I bring my feet up as I would for a crunch, but without completely flattening my back against the bench. It’s possible that this was his aim.

Another possibility is that he was simply trying to work his core more by working the muscles in a less stable position (without his feet down to stabilize his torso). That said, there are several other ways to achieve the same instability and focus on the biceps without sacrificing spine alignment.

I’m curious what weight he was using. Bicep curls in the supine position can be murder on your shoulder with heavy weight.

I sure hope this wasn’t the same guy with his phone on the adjacent bench. Bastard.


It was a different guy.

He used a very light weight. Maybe 5 or 10 pounds. I understand your points, but if one was standing while doing curls, the back would be in a natural S shape. Wouldn’t it?


The Punk Rocker reminds of a cretin that sat next to us on our last flight. He had a PSP that he used to play some first-person shooter game with a terrorist related theme at full volume without headphones. Once tired with that, he was blasting some really loud horror flick during the in flight film. About halfway through, we discovered he actually brought headphones, but never thought to use them.


You’re totally right, and that pretty much is my point. There are a variety of other positions to do a simple curl with far more benefit to other muscle groups, while still maintaining the “s-curve” (standing, seated or otherwise).

And with such little weight, his biceps were likely not getting a decent workout to begin with. Hell, my two-year-old could curl 5-pound weights.

The only other thing coming to mind is that he may have otherwise needed additional support in the torso. Nursing an injury, perhaps? Even so, that’s a strange position.