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The Gym Grunting Controversy

A large well known fitness facility company has a “no grunting” policy. Last year, they made news in the U.S. when they called the police to escort a member out of the gym for grunting. What’s the deal with that?

Ok, ok. Aside from being drama queens and a bit annoying, what are these grunters really doing wrong?

And how does the gym staff decide what is a grunt and what’s just normal exhalation of air upon exertion?

Do they hire “Grunt Monitors”?

I can see it now in Grunt Monitor Training: “Ok grunt monitors, a grunt is considered a legitimate grunt when it sounds like “uuuoooohhhgg” but is not a grunt when it sounds like “ugh”.” I mean, honestly – doesn’t this seem pretty silly?

Of course, there’s the deeper more philosophical question: is there a difference between a snort and a grunt?

What if you drop a weight on your toe and scream “ouch”. Do you get expelled for that?

And what are the exact procedures for expulsion from the gym for grunting? Is a member issued a grunt warning first? Maybe two grunt warnings? Three grunts - you are out?

Imagine what happens at the employees’ shift change: “Hi Jack, you see that guy over there in the red shirt? Watch him carefully. He’s had two grunt warnings already and I believe I heard the beginnings of a grunt earlier. His days are numbered…”

“Ok Susie, you can count on me…I never miss a grunter”.

What about the poor grunters? Don’t you think they feel discriminated against? Is this the beginning of gym apartheid?

Will people have to be grunt-tested before they can join the gym? If they grunt, will they be sent to the grunter’s gym?

New membership drives and advertisements will go something like this: “Are you a grunter? No problem! Come on down” Maybe more avant garde gyms could have tiered membership fees – as in, “Yes indeed sir, we do have a Gold Membership just for grunters. Of course, it will cost you more.”

Most women when they workout make more of a moaning sound than a grunt. Do gyms need special rules for moaners?

Or is it like ladies night at a bar? Ladies attract men, so they are allowed to moan.

Here’s an idea: they could implement special hours for lady moaners. That would be good for business, don’t you think? Fit women sweating and making moaning sounds. Most guys I know would be there for sure – and not to workout either!

On a more serious note, what is the grunting and moaning all about? Does it really serve any purpose? Well, there’s not much evidence that it serves a physiological purpose. Psychological? My guess is that’s the reason people do it.

To lift heavy things properly, it’s important to breathe deeply. Holding one’s breath when lifting can drive blood pressure up.

There used to be a belief among trainers to teach people to exhale at exertion, but that idea is continuously challenged by new research.

It’s more common now for trainers to explain to folks the importance of breathing well and continuously while working out.

Whether one inhales or exhales on the lift doesn’t really matter. Whatever is comfortable is best…so long as breathing occurs.

So here’s to all the grunters and moaners out there….happy lifting!

Copyright (c) 2007 Ainsley Laing

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About The Author: About the Author: Ainsley Laing, MSc. has been a Fitness Trainer for 25 years and writes exclusively Body for Mind eZine. She holds certifications in Group Exercise, Sports Nutrition and Personal Fitness Training. She is also a professional engineer and mom. To see more articles by Ainsley visit or the blog at

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