Post: Baby on board

Baby on board

I feel like I have high school and university trauma sometimes when I start a new blog because I tend to start with “Time for another blog here now” which is superfluous information as you already know this when you open the article. It’s a compulsion though which might be from endlessly trying to stretch 2 sentences of good information over a 1000 word essay. Anyway, the point is, it’s time for another blog.

I am almost positive that every single person reading this…and every taken person…would have seen those BABY ON BOARD signs that new parents and guardians pop up in their rear windscreen while they’re driving.

My memory of my initial reaction to these signs once I was old enough to have angsty thoughts was basically “who cares, why are you so self-centered that you think I want to know about your dumb baby”, “what, I’m (my parents are) supposed to drive on eggshells around you now because you have a baby in your car? Grow up, babies are no more special than anyone else, least of all yours!”

The next iteration of that was noticing stand-up comedians leveraging the same sentiment for an easy and cheap laugh.

I, and I assume those comedians, continued on with our lives with no more thought given to our ignorant and needlessly adversarial stance on these signs. I did hear a few comments here and there that they were for safety and incorrectly assumed that it was so we would drive carefully around these cars in the same manner as someone on their L’s.

A few years ago a client who volunteers with the SES relayed to me a story his instructor had told him. They were doing a training course to get people out of a car wreck with good safety and timing and everything they would need to do in the field. The team did a great job and in super quick time and the instructor smiled back at them and gave them a fail mark.

They hadn’t checked for infants. He told them that his team had once cleared a wreck and once it was all done the tow truck had delivered it to the wreckers to be crushed. The crew at the wreckers were loading it all up but paused when they heard a weird sound coming from the remains of the car. A lot of time had passed since the car crash, and yet, when they checked, they found a crying baby under one of the seats.

If the baby hadn’t cried at that exact moment, the story would have had the most tragic of endings. So the SES crew, and all of us now, should know that in a car crash, you should always check if there’s an infant is stuck somewhere in the car you can’t see or has been flung far from the vehicle.

The story above is why those signs exist. They are to help emergency workers identify if they have rescued all the lives in the vehicle. My attitude towards them was one based on pure ignorance and being judgmental about something that didn’t impact me at all for the sole reason of the kick I got from feeling like they were dumb or self-centered and I was above them, morally, on this issue. The truth is, my attitude was both completely wrong and profoundly closed off to understanding and empathy.

The above pic is one of probably billions of images and videos of ‘gym fail’ content out there. Notwithstanding the fact that this and probably at least half of the other gym fails out there are staged, this has become such a popular phenomenon and one that I certainly used to indulge in and get some joy out of.

However I have seen many videos or pictures now with commenters sounding off about terrible form, how they are going to injure themselves or how ineffective the exercise is. We love to position ourselves as the experts and espouse tough love with the pretend desire to not see people hurt themselves. I expect, the truth is mostly we just want to judge and feel superior to someone else because it makes our ego feel warm. It’s pretty unbecoming and in many instances also does little more than show closed-mindedness and ignorance.

Many times these commenters will tee off on a person and someone who knows what is going on or the person themselves will respond to let everyone know that hey, this is actually a really specific exercise for people rehabbing with this condition, or training for this sport.

And even when the person in the gym fail is legitimately doing something incorrect or even dangerous, what they are doing is having a crack in a world that can’t wait to tear someone down for not being perfect. The people that leverage off this and stage gym fails are mostly adding to the problem as well – making the gym, a place which already has pretty high barriers to entry for many people who need it, feel even more exclusionary.

The gym is a place where most people feel self-conscious and worry about what others may think of them. Having the BABY ON BOARD attitude towards people simply having a crack is how to turn off and turn away the people that could benefit the most from the support and inclusiveness a true community gym could provide.

I would like more people and more gyms to have their first impulse be for empathy and support, not judgement and superiority – which most of the time simply shows your own ignorance and not much else.

At Amplify Fitness we do have this as part of the fabric of our gym community. We pride ourselves on being welcoming, inclusive and celebrating any person who attends the gym. Your reaction to something or someone really only shows who you are, it’s not a comment on the thing itself, so we all need to think about who we want to be and do our best to walk in those shoes.

If those shoes walked into Amplify Fitness and had a great time, that’d be pretty cool though, just putting it out there.