Tales From the Glitter Gym – The Old Guy

It has been 13 years since I retired my Tales From the Glitter Gym series. I wasn’t planning on adding any future editions, but I need to add at least one more.

Let’s meet The Old Guy.

There is this old guy that comes to my gym in the 5 AM hour. No matter what the weather is, he comes in wearing shorts with a thin tank top. It could be below freezing. It doesn’t matter. No coat, jacket, or hoodie.

The employee that opens our gym in the morning, goes directly into an office and goes to sleep. To not disturb himself, he turns the music down so low that one can barely hear it. It is quieter in my gym at this hour than a library. This doesn’t bother the old guy. He doesn’t even wear headphones. He lifts in silence.

Between sets, he never checks his phone. He may not even have a phone.

The old guy is fit. He might be one of the leanest guys in the gym, but he isn’t jacked. He doesn’t lift much weight. Lots of machines with slower reps. He doesn’t stay long either. Maybe 20 minutes. I don’t think he even breaks a sweat.

If you haven’t guessed it yet. I am the old guy. I survived. I traded bro-lifting for safer exercises. I didn’t need to feed my ego with more personal bests. I’m the last Gen-Xer left in the free-weight room. Now the elder Millenials are gone. All those guys who got jacked slamming heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench presses went missing after they turned 40.

I wonder where they went.

20 Comments

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  1. I love this post. It brought a smile to my face today. Watching friends and peers slowly “retire” from their fitness journeys is bittersweet for me. It’s a shame to see them drop off and fall away, but it also gives me a feeling of accomplishment to be one of the “survivors”..

    Keep on keeping on, MAS. It’s motivating and encouraging to see you out there still putting in the work.

  2. Stuart Gilbert

    Mar 9, 2024 — 11:05 am

    I am in the process of becoming the old guy at my gym.
    I’m not 100% there yet…but some reasons are slightly beyond my control.
    I don’t use barbells…but I’m not a “machine guy” either. This is mainly due to my gym being a budget gym, and many of the machines in it are badly designed and not great to use. So therefore I only use a select few. The rest of my work is done using dumbbells, cables and body weight.
    I’ve not whittled my workouts down to thirty minutes or less yet. The first reason being that I don’t go at 5 AM…so as I’m in the gym at busier times, sometimes I have to wait for equipment / stations. Secondly, I’m not yet confident enough to let go of some exercises which others may find redundant. My weight training sessions tend to last an hour and I do two a week.
    Finally I’m also in the gym to do cardio. This is a no brainier for me, and something which I am unlikely to drop, but it’s not too demanding or too time consuming ( about 40 minutes a time).
    I totally agree about the phone thing AND wish they would turn down the music, but they have to appeal to the majority twenty something hip crowd.
    I’m getting there, my training HAS adapted to reflect my age, and aches and pains from previous training mistakes…the most important thing is, that I’m still turning up…

  3. They’re all waiting for knee surgery

  4. So, as the old guy in the gym, have you started walking around the locker room naked (i.e., Uncle Leo)? 🙂

  5. Would love to see a post detailing what an “old guy” workout actually looks like.

    Sincerely,

    A Soon To Be Old Guy

  6. According to a hip surgeon, the people who go for hip surgery are men who dead lift and women in their 50s who do yoga. Those who don’t are the people who do mild types of activities.
    I’m a female in her 50s with severe scoliosis, and working with Functional Patterns is saving me and making me strong, and safely. I’ve never been better in my whole life.

  7. I hate that gyms (and supermarkets) feel a need to play music. Even if it’s music I like (which often it isn’t), I find it a distraction from a good focused workout.

  8. @M* – My current workout is nothing exciting. I start with the Big 5 from Body By Science. I vary rep speed – even inside a set. I often add static holds inside a set and then resume slower lifting. I lift 3x a week, so I don’t go to failure.

    Goblet squats and farmer walks are also staples.
    Shoulder hangs plus pullups / chinups.
    Sometimes an incline press with DBs. A lower weight performed slowly.

    Ab work is reserved for the days I don’t go to the gym.

    @Sonia – I just looked up Functional Patterns on YouTube. I’ll watch a few videos. Thanks.

  9. I love coming back to see your fitness post updates. You have given me a different perspective on training – a focus on longevity – which I try to keep in mind whenever I’m shooting for heavy PRs.

    At my gym, there are still plenty of heavy lifters in their 50’s into 70’s. But it does come at a price as I know some had surgery and taken months off, and others regularly need to take Advil after squatting 225.

    It’s always a balance act trying to maintain strength, look good, and feel good.

    I feel like trash whenever I deadlift anything over 185, as it takes days to recover my CNS, but the feeling of knowing I can lift that heavy as someone who’s 115 makes me feel amazing.

    If I just wanted to look good, I could work with much lower weights 12-15 reps but it wouldn’t maintain my strength levels.

    Still working at it and learning!

  10. I’m so glad to see a new edition of Tales of the Glitter Gym, I was always a fan and the unfortunate catalyst for the deprecation. Keep on rocking MAS!

  11. @Joe – Great post! Here were are 20+ years after the San Diego Blogger party still blogging.

  12. @MAS
    You’re very welcome!
    They show many unbelievable results on their Instagram.
    The founder of FP, Naudi, has many haters, because he’s saving so many people from chronic pain. So he can be reactive to it. But if you’re curious about the method, try to overpass that, what these guys do is simply amazing work!
    Here’s the video of my results, and I’m even better now : https://www.instagram.com/p/Cq8WY6lAxnL/
    Cheers to you!

  13. @Sonia – Impressive! Congrats on the progress.

  14. @MAS Thank you so much :)))

  15. @Sonia – The Functional Pattern programs look very interesting. Which of the programs have you used and what are you doing now? It’s too bad the videos are only available for a year instead of lifetime unless by the end of a year you can pretty much do it all on your own. I might just give this a try some day! Thanks for the heads up and congrats on your results!

  16. @Rod,
    Hi Rod! Thank you! 🙂
    I started with the 10 week course. I was in a terrible shape, with lots of pains, so I went super slow. The first 3 weeks of the 10 week course are about myofascial release, it’s very gradual to avoid problems. I did the first week for a few months and implemented the other 2 weeks later. Then I only worked with my practitioner via Zoom, because I’m an extreme case (I had 74° scoliosis when I started) and needed help.
    I don’t mind paying for the course, because there’s so much in it.
    But if you can afford it, I really recommend working with someone after you complete the 10 week course if you go for it. And if there’s no one near where you live, working via Zoom is surprisingly effective!
    I love that I can work via Zoom, because I’m in France, and there are no practitioners here.
    I record all my sessions, and it takes time to look at the videos, and practice. I haven’t been as good as I wish last year because I moved and it took me the whole year. Now I’m back taking more time to improve.
    FP is truly amazing. In my case it’s really a life saver.
    By the way, they have a FB page ‘Functional Patterns Doers’, where I found my practitioner.
    If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask me!

  17. Chris Highcock

    Mar 13, 2024 — 3:30 pm

    As another old guy, i think this was a very good post.

    When I was a teenager I was not particularly athletic. I started weight training and I’ve kept doing it ever since. In my 20s I looked average. Same in my 30s. In my 40s I began to look fitter than my contemporaries. In my 50s I look a lot better than the other guys I know my age. I didn’t get better really. I just kept going, maintained what I had….

    The main thing is not to get injured. Just keep going and be sensible. The survival is key when the other guys get bored or injured.

    What you said about being lean is important too. Getting older being leaner helps a lot. And it isn’t as hard as it’s made out to be. Peasant food and not overeating…

  18. I think your approach to fitness is very sane (and wise). My take is that you are coaxing your body to respond, and therefore with consistency comes gains – whether that be strength, health or a combination thereof. Most of try in our early years to ‘smash’ the body into progress, which does have short term results but there is no longevity there.

    Interestingly, i thing this applies to cardio fitness as well. I was the natural runner but becomes it came so naturally I never really pursued it that much. However, one of my best half marathon times came from one run a week and lots of easy 40 minute cycling to work each way.

  19. @dan – I too was a natural runner during college. Ran a 3:43 marathon on my first race having never ran more than 12 miles before. Zero hill work, zero sprints, and zero weight training. Just youth and desire to finish the race.

  20. @dan and @mas: There is an endurance guru on twitter (Alan Couzens) who swears by 1) Lots of low level “base building” running and 2) plenty of easy cycling for runners.

    Seems you hit on the same winning combination.

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