• Jon Reid

Ahhhh the Gym is SO Busy!!

Gym gear on.

Motivating playlist selected.

Session plan on your phone.

Exactly 45 minutes to get this done.

Let’s do this.

You stride in to the gym…

….only to be presented with an overcrowded sweat-fest…

…empty equipment stands…

…and queues that would rival those of a new Disney World rollercoaster…

Gyms can get busy.

So busy.

So very very busy.

So busy they make the London Underground seem like a private limo.

Well, maybe not that busy.

But busy enough to throw you a curve ball…

If you train during peak hours, it’s best to have a plan B, otherwise you’re going to

experience a rollercoaster of emotions, something like…

An initial rejection of the situation… “surely not”

An unwillingness to accept the situation… “SURELY not!!”

Frustration… “Ahhhh”

Anger as the reality sets in… “for the love of…"

A reluctant acceptance… “acchh"

A sense of despair… “what happens now?”

Helplessness…“What can I do!?”

It’s tough.

It’s really tough.

But we can get through this together.

A uninspired cardio session or a defeated walk back to the changing rooms — it doesn’t have to be this way.

All we need is a plan…

Believe it or not, when faced with an overcrowded gym, there ARE options…

Option 1: Stand and Wait

I don’t like this approach.

You could be standing around for a very long time, and as you well know: TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, SEIZE EVERY MOMENT, WAIT FOR NO ONE, THE TIME IS NOW

Stop shouting at me.

If you want to wait, make good use of waiting time by warming up in the vicinity of the equipment you’re waiting for.

Option 2: “Excuse me, how many more sets have you got left?”

This will generally get one of two responses:

1. An Overly Polite (and Ultimately Self-Defeating) Rushed Departure

“Oh, eh, ehm, I’ve just got one more left”

…followed by a rushed set and a quick exit by the person who had only just started their exercise.

This is a win for you, and a loss for them.

2. A Scowl

A shake of the head, a scowl and an unnecessarily firm: “Mate, I’ve got like 10 sets left mate”

Cool, mate.

Move away from this person.

Option 3: Temper Tantrum (Not Advised)

Storming around muttering “GAWD I CAN’T EVEN GET THE 28 KILO BELLS BRO” is an option many choose.

I’d say this is a waste of energy and I’m not sure of the aim. (I only include this option because it’s one I’ve seen on many occasions… usually male nipple models.)

If this is you and you’re genuinely angry at not being able to get your hands on the 28 kilo bells, then try to use the adrenaline induced by this injustice to fuel your session… or use the 26’s or 30’s.

(Of course, no matter how furiously fired up on adrenaline you are, the session will ultimately be worthless because you were forced to use the 26 bells… Hmm… AW DAMMIT BRO.)

Option 4: Adapt Your Plan by Having an Adaptable Plan (Optimal Response)

If you’re faced with a busy busy gym, or you’re never sure what equipment is going to be available, then your plan may need to change a little.

Barbells may need to be switched for dumbbells; this is okay, nothing bad will happen.

The Adaptable Plan

A good strategy to combat a busy gym is to strip your program down to movement patterns and have several options for each pattern.

By referring back to the ‘movement patterns and exercises’ table at the start of how to write your own sports performance session, we can slot in several options for each pattern and thus give ourselves lots of options in the face of 1000 faces in the gym…

So, your back up plan might look something like:

Ok, it’s not ideal and can be a bit frustrating, but by having an adaptable plan with lots of options you’ll still be able to get a good session in, hit all the movements you intended to and save yourself a gym-related freak out.


Life is going well if your freak outs are gym related. Have several movement options in your plan and be open to adapting your program. The impromptu variety might even be a refreshing change!



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©2020 by Jonathon Reid