We all know the stereotype. Since the rise of smart phones, there’s been a rash of bros at the gym who spend about 25% of their time lifting and the remainder sitting on equipment and checking their phones. Phone bros have accumulated like hair in your plumbing system, clogging up the pipes and making it harder for everyone to get to the stuff that they need. They’re obnoxious, and everyone hates them. But I’ve got a confession: I’m one of those phone bros.
I tend to do lots of heavy lifting. I train for strength, so I tend to have long rest times. In between sets of near maximal deadlifts, I’ve got to take some time and relax. Since I’m often listening to music or podcasts while I lift, that means that I tend to end up fiddling with my phone all the same, even though I know I’d probably get through things a little bit quicker if I didn’t. Here’s another thing: I rarely let that impact other people’s experience at the gym.
A lot of griping that goes on in the fitness industry could be solved if people would just open their mouths and talk to people. Curling in the squat rack? Well why don’t you walk over to the guy and explain what he’s doing? Dude’s using your machine? Well why don’t you politely ask him if he could get moving? Rather, people seem to feel more inclined to turn around and post stuff on Facebook rather than confronting the actual issue at hand. A lot of gym goers, myself included, are perfectly willing to move along and make space if you simply ask. The fact that a lot of people don’t is precisely the issue.
This is also why a lot of people fear getting into fitness. They see people doing stuff and they have that vague sense of the shaming that goes on online, and they want to avoid becoming the next weirdo on Youtube doing something stupid and getting filmed covertly by someone’s camera phone. Admittedly social interactions can sometimes be difficult, and we might not want to try and correct that weird guy who looks at everyone funny and tends to get a little bit too close when he starts up unwanted conversations in the locker room. However, the vast majority of people are not that: they’re just dudes getting their workout on.
Besides, workouts can be boring sometimes. Lifting weights over and over again, as fun as it may be, is hardly anyone’s idea of paradise I’m sure. In fact, repetitive action could probably be considered something more like someone’s idea of hell. (I’m looking at you, Sisyphus.) Whatever gets people to actually get their workout on, even if it’s something as stupid as avoiding part of the experience by escaping into our phones, should be considered a good thing!
So next time you see a phone bro consider: is he getting in your way? Then gently let him know. And if he isn’t? Then just let him be!
We don’t need to be passive aggressive in the gym. We just need to get our workouts on.