Problem

So, there is this (big) guy at the gym. He is 210cm and 105Kg (~6'11" and 230 lbs) which makes him look like a mountain, but he seems to not understand that not everyone is naturally as big as he is.

I wouldn't have asked the question if this was only about me, but yesterday was infernal for everyone.

He uses a lot of space in the gym, he speaks very loud and most of all he looks at everyone and comments on absolutely e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, which makes people feel really uncomfortable.

Yesterday a girl had to move away from him because she could not stand his behavior anymore (watching & commenting). It was the first time I saw that girl and she was so upset that she told me.

The problem is that you can't say anything to him because he will just deny it and take anything as a personal attack. Every time you're not agreeing with him, his face shows that he is pissed off and he raises his voice.

I can't really involve the staff in this since there is only one employee, the boss of the gym. He is friends with the guy and he doesn't like people complaining. So, there's not really anyone around that knows how to properly lift weights that I can involve in this.

Concrete situation

I was bench pressing. He came in front of me just to watch. Once I was done, he said

You should try to bring your elbows as close as possible to your body.

I said that I was doing it properly and that I don't want to try anything else because I just want to enjoy my training safely (mainly if it sounds really bad, which in this case, was in fact bad to do).

I think that he just wanted, in this situation, to make me look like a weak man in front of two girls that were staying close to us, because he said it out loud.

Him: Try it and you won't lift as much as you think you can.

(Then he just proceeded to bench press on my towel without asking if I want him to show me.)

Me: Okay, thank you, but I don't want to change my routine. I am just enjoying my training.

Him: Well, if you always do what you want you won't progress, but whatever, do what you want.

After that he did go talk to another person to tell them how to work out, but for the rest of my training he did not stop checking out how my friend and I were training.

Question

I have been lifting for years and I just want to train peacefully now, so I would like to be able to respond well to people like him. I don't think that they are bad people, they just don't understand how toxic they are sometimes.

My goal is to continue my normal routine without hurting him or making him hate me (intensely staring at me, not talking to me, etc)

How do I approach situations like the one above?

  • 3
    Is this guy aware that bringing in your elbows rearranges the distribution of work between your muscles so it's quite logical for the same motion to be more difficult? – MonkeyZeus Jun 19 at 17:09
  • Has he bothered you again, after you have shown him you are not interested in his advice? Otherwise what you described seems a good approach to the situation. – clark Jun 19 at 18:13
  • 3
    @MonkeyZeus: The core of the issue seems to be the unwanted nature of the advice; not whether the given advice is correct or not. – Flater Jun 20 at 6:39
  • 1
    Closely related: How can I handle ... challenging everything I say? – NotThatGuy Jun 21 at 22:57
up vote 124 down vote accepted

I'm assuming you are paying to use this gym, and that Mr Big-mouth is also a member, not someone employed by the gym. I suggest you make a formal complaint to management.
Start by telling them that you want it to be kept confidential. Tell them that he keeps giving out unsolicited advice (at the gym) and that you have witnessed him bothering other people. Ask if they have received other complaints about him yet.

Most gyms will know how to deal with these situations, but if no-one ever makes a complaint, they will probably assume that there is no problem.

The fact that he takes the fun out of it for you, is a big enough reason for you to say something to management. I strongly advise you NOT to speak directly with him. It is not your responsibility to make him aware of his off-putting manner.

People like this seem to thrive when involved in a discussion. The solution is, therefore, simply to refuse to be engaged in one.

I think he will always have something to add if you disagree with him even in the slightest. Even a "but" in a simple "Thank you, but..." will give him something to latch onto and continue the "discussion".

I suggest to be nice, agree, nod, and then continue do your thing.


When he says:

"Try it and you won't lift as much as you think you can"

You could respond with:

You're right, I probably wouldn't.


When he says:

Well, if you always do what you want, you won't progress but whatever, do what you want

You could say:

OK

or

Thank you

or even

I'll try it sometime.


Do this in a cheerful tone (avoid looking sarcastic or annoyed) and continue with your routine as if nothing happened. There's nothing to latch onto in these answers, so the worst that can happen is that he'll add some snide remarks. You can ignore them or accept them with a smile, and he'll go away.

Of course, there's a slight chance that he'll be obnoxious enough to refuse to leave no matter what you say, in which case it would soon become harassment and would be grounds to ask the gym staff for assistance.

  • 6
    I like this answer but unfortunately it won't work in this situation because the guy just don't stop talk until he chose to leave by himself. I already acted like that but he kept talking and it was frustrating to see that this guy was just being ultra rude and selfish. – Maverick Jun 20 at 19:38

Get a pair of headphones, put them on. pretend like there's the best and loudest music playing out of those, even though you left your phone in the locker and they are just tucked in your pocket. He'd most likely not try to get your attention in any way and most likely lose interest in you when he sees there's no hope of response from you.

And of course as mentioned speak to the gym, if necessarily, repeatedly.

  • 13
    I see a lot of people recommending (on this board) using a pair of headphones but I don't like this idea because I come here to increase my interpersonal skills and I think that this idea is just avoiding a problem instead of learning how to fix it BUT, but but but, I'm so pissed of by gym people that I think I will end up doing this. So I will +1 – Maverick Jun 20 at 19:36
  • 5
    @Catheart I understand your sentiment and think you've picked a good answer here, but keep in mind for future questions that sometimes avoiding a problem is the best answer. A big ol' interpersonal skill is learning how to pick your battles. – Lord Farquaad Jun 20 at 20:07

I get asked by random people and friends

"How come you aren't taking this supplement or that supplement before working out?"

or

"How come you don't take protein powder after your workout?"

or

"Don't you want to gain weight?"

I, like yourself, no longer desire to bulk up, and enjoy working out for what it is, staying in shape. So when people ask those questions or try to give me tips I tell them

I'm working out so I can eat whatever I want for dinner, like Taco Bell.

I use this method quite often and it tends to mitigate any possible hostile reaction from people. It usually gets a laugh or two and the person understands I have no desire to "bulk up" since I am going to "eat Taco Bell" after my work out.

This person seems to be rude, obnoxious, and most importantly spoiling your enjoyment if the gym. You want to tell then in a way that has results. There is no need to be polite.

“I didn’t ask for any advice, and your advice is actually damaging. Stop bothering me. I’m not interested in your advice. Nor is anyone else here.”

There is no need to give this person the benefit of the doubt. He has already been harassing other customers. The politest thing you can do is to make it very, very clear that you are not accepting his behaviours, so no painful discussions on the subject can arise anymore.

  • 1
    I would remove the "Nor is anyone else here". This can be argued with, whereas saying that you don't want to be bothered is impossible to refute. – a3nm Jun 22 at 12:30

protected by Community Jun 19 at 20:17

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