So I went back to the gym expecting all of the things you would normally expect to see at the beginning of the new year. What I didn't expect to see was missing equipment and I was very disappointed with what was in its place.
You can imagine my surprise when I walked into
my gym and saw that all the squat racks had been replaced with the
monstrous machinations shown in the picture. It was an over-glorified
Smith Machine with almost as much range of movement as the equipment it
replaced and only at five times the cost. Meanwhile, we still have
toilets and showers that don't work. Sorry. Let me tell the whole story in as unbiased a perspective as possible ;-)
This is the Max Rack. It is touted to be the absolute latest and greatest machine in any gym. It is supposed to combine, "the safety of a Smith Machine with the versatility of a power rack",but its ads plainly state that it only "mimics free weight lifting". Then its advertisement kicks out a disclaimer that beginners would need " ... previous experience or the guidance of a trainer for maximum effectiveness".
There is no safety data available to compare a history between Max Rack and a 2nd hand power rack. So the safety claim is as valid as you need it to be to console you after your sale. It retails for about $3,500. Just for comparison I found racks made for powerlifters starting around $679. I'm not trying to make the company that makes this look bad. I'm just trying to understand what would make a gym owner go this route. Why would I throw away a rack and replace it with a machine that can only MIMIC it, still requires that the user know what the heck he is doing, and costs about 5 times as much?
I get it though. The gym business is just that; a business. And I knew that the odds of a mom and pop gym staying cool for longer than a few years was slim and none. There just aren't enough people in the know to swing things over to a powerlifter's way of thinking. I've managed to infect a few people with the iron bug and they show great promise. They spread the word that squats and deadlifts are really good for you. But even they are amazed at how people respond. The bottom line is that people want gyms with machines that have pictures for instructions to follow. They don't want to think or have to learn anything difficult. Who wants to take the time to master movements that have been used to build some of the strongest and most muscular bodies of our time? The business needs to give the customers what they want in order to survive. Therefore, majority rules when it comes to the direction we all go.
So I will continue to try to infect everyone with the idea that the big three lifts are what we need to learn to be big and strong. But I will be on the look out for a power rack for my garage. I will seek out used Olympic bars and weights. I will build what no business can give me without too many strings attached. I will make a gym that has what I need to continue my journey and I won't have any hard feelings for those who help drive my gym a different direction.