9.06.2013

Cheaters


There's a guy at my gym who cheats.

Now, when I say "cheats" what I mean is that he lies about the weight he lifts, the number of repetitions he completes in a given time, the time he took to complete a certain workout... Any metric that can be used to describe his success in the gym, he lies about.

Ordinarily, this would be completely innocuous. In regular workout terms, lying about what you can do is simply lying about what you can do. But in CrossFit, you're participating alongside other people in the same workout. Your metrics are on display alongside the other peoples' in your gym. It's not necessarily competition (although, friendly bragging rights are regularly exercised), it's motivation.

One of the most wonderful things to watch is someone who came into the gym as a newbie or overweight or generally green do a workout they did a few months ago and they completely blow away their old numbers. Another fun thing to watch is when a group of people who have been training with one another at the same time for a few months all show massive increases.

My favorite thing to see is when someone who came to the sport -- like myself -- had absolutely no aspirations of competing or doing anything besides getting in shape, and they begin to see a confidence shine through. They begin to see they're way more fit than they thought they were or ever could be. They become hopeful.

And then, there's this fucking asshole who comes in and goes through some motions and lies about how fast he did them. He shorts reps -- if there's a workout that calls for 30 reps in under a certain time, he'll do 24 and call it 30 to get a better time. He lies about the weight. Just yesterday, I watched him work out with 185lbs on a bar and when we recorded the workout on the board, he wrote 275lbs. There were nine other people in that room, all lifting near what he lifted, and he just had to look better.

He's a cheater. And he pisses me the hell off.

Other people in the gym talk about him. When I express my anger, they remind me that everyone's workout is for themselves, so he's only cheating himself.

Sure, fine. He's not getting the best workout he can get. If he ever competes, he will be exposed as being weaker than everyone else. That's justice, and I'm fine with that.

What I'm NOT fine with is the sense of entitlement he gets from being "better" than everyone on the board each day. He's not, in multiple categories, least of all being "morality."

I'm NOT fine with his thinking he can get away with it. We're not stupid, and he thinks we're dumber than he is. That's insulting.

I'm NOT fine with watching him put a number on the board I know he did not legitimately get when there's a guy in front of me who has been training for the past 6 months and has lost nearly 50lbs and beat him by a short amount. Here's a guy for whom confidence is extremely hard-won, who has years of talking down (both from himself and from others) to overcome, whose ego is just in the infant stages of learning not to accept those insults due to his new body and new attitude. And he's just under a guy who cheated to get his "win" for the day.

I'm NOT fine with any of it. And I'm not sorry. I am very at peace with the individual aspects of peoples' characters. As I've written in the past, I'm not responsible for the bad behavior of other people. I can only control myself. I am not the world's policeman. I can only control how I behave, not anyone else.

But I also cannot stand idly by while someone takes the wind out of someone else's sails. I consider what he's doing a form of bullying. He has to be better, so he puts himself above others dishonestly. In order to look better than others, he has to look at their numbers, then choose one that makes him look better. That's belittlement. That's bullying.

That's fucking bullshit.

I don't own the gym. I don't work for the gym. I do however consider that place a sacred place for me and everyone who goes in there. We have a family. It's exceptionally rare that someone could come into our gym and not be accepted for who they are, completely regardless of race, religion, gender, political standing, strength, endurance, physical shape or any other metric. I've never run into anything like it. And I feel it's my duty as a member of the family to protect it.


Yesterday, he wanted to work out with me. I very calmly told him that I count every rep, so keep up. He smirked and said "sure will." And then he goes and puts the wrong weight on the board. And I've seen him lie on the board enough to know, it wasn't simply a mathematical error. I have to be cautious, because I don't want to step on the owners' toes. I don't want to introduce drama where there doesn't need to be any. And I don't want to be that overzealous guy who, when everyone else says "eh, just let it go" can't stop chewing tinfoil over someone elses' quirk.

I feel that anyone who willingly disrespects the sanctity of other peoples' trust is without merit. So there's this. My vent on cheating.

We all screw up. We all make bad choices. I'll admit, when I first started CrossFit, I couldn't bear the thought that me, the gigantic gorilla power lifter type, couldn't move 95 lbs for 30 repetitions faster than someone half my size. I was embarrassed. And I was severely winded. There were a few workouts where I would short reps, just to get out of the workout faster and stop the suffering. But I wouldn't lie when asked, and I wouldn't put my name on the board and record a time or weight.

That's the thing. Honesty is a choice. We are predisposed to take the easy route. Humans are lazy. Look at every technological and engineering invention in the past 100 years. Every single one of them has been created or modified to make living easier. The same goes with the truth. We avoid pain. We don't like being discovered as weak, or wrong, or otherwise anything other than sterling. We all lie. We all fake it. We all take shortcuts. It's human. And we should always strive to do better, but a mistake is a mistake. But cheaters aren't making mistakes. They're cheating.

When challenged, the honest tell the truth. They admit what they did. They try to make it right. That's where the choice is made. The honest make a habit of being honest, because they choose to be. Cheaters make the decision to knowingly lie to another person for your own gain. And It's disgusting.

And don't even get me started on infidelity in relationships. If you think people who lie during simple workouts in the gym light me up, you'll go blind from the red hot glow of my face when you ask me about adultery. Mistakes are mistakes. Feelings are feelings. Stuff happens. But cheating is a choice, and choosing to betray to someone to get what you want is bullshit.

That's all.