Miscelleneous Miscellany Monday: Bystander Effect, PTDC Hybrid Training Seminar and Other Stuff

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1. Behavioral economist, Dan Ariely, has often referred to the phenomenon known as ‘the bystander effect’ at length in many of his articles, his blog, as well as both of his books – The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational – which I couldn’t recommend highly enough.

For those unfamiliar, it essentially refers to cases where individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency situation to the victim when other people are present.

The most famous incident which sheds a little more light on the topic would be that of Kitty Genovese who, back in 1964, was walking back to her apartment in Queens, NYC at 3 AM when she was attacked by a perpetrator.  Despite screaming for over a half an hour for help, no one responded and came to her aid.  What’s worse:  her attacker, after the initial stabbing, fled the scene when he caught the attention of a neighbor, only to return ten minutes later to finish the assault.

As a result, the bystander effect is also commonly referred to as Genovese Syndrome.

I’ve never really experienced this sort of thing firsthand.  I mean, I witnessed a pretty severe case of road rage a few months ago where I saw one motorist get out his truck to punch another motorist (who cut him off) in the face, only speed off once I ran over to see if they guy who got hit was alright.  Other than that, I’ve never really seen the bystander effect in action.

Well holy shit, this changed this past weekend.

I was a bachelor all of last week – Lisa was away touring Napa and Sonoma Valley with her best friend – and I figured what better way to spend my Saturday night than to go see Prometheus, which I had been anticipating for months on end. Directed by Ridley Scott and presumed to be a sorta/kinda prequel to Alien, I was ready to get my space nerd on.

As is the case most of the time when I go to the movies alone, I sat in the very back row, you know, cause I’m a rebel like that.

Anyways, the movie rocked. It had spaceships, people getting their heads torn off, explosions, and robots. What’s not to love?

With about twenty minutes to go, I see a couple about two rows in front of me get up from their seats, and I just assume they’re leaving. Maybe it wasn’t their bag, or they had a late dinner reservation to get to?

Then, without warning, the gentleman just straight up face plants onto the floor. HARD.  At first I just thought he tripped, but after hearing the woman’s reaction, I figured something a little more serious must have happened.

No one moved. I could see a few people in the same row as them kind of look over to see what was happening, but for the most part, people were more concerned with the big screen than the fact that there was an unconscious human being lying on the floor.

Uh, hello?

I get up from my seat and approach the couple, and the man comes to. He’s bleeding from his eye and mouth (he landed on his glasses), but he was coherent and able to speak. I asked if he was alright, and his girlfriend, clearly distraught, allows me to stabilize his head (I wasn’t sure how hard he hit, or even if he hurt his neck, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry). I asked the couple’s other friend to go inform the theater staff and to call the EMTs.

Meanwhile I just talked to the guy, asked him questions – his name, whether he was dizzy or thirsty, whether or not he had a history of passing out, or if he thought Charlize Theron was a smoke show in that space suit?

Okay, I didn’t ask that.

The movie didn’t stop. People just kept watching, not blinking an eye. Unbelievable!!!!!

Now, in all fairness, and giving people the benefit of the doubt, it was dark (and loud) and I suspect that the majority of patrons had no clue what was going on.

But I found it strikingly surreal that the people in the same row were just going about their business and not offering to see if there was anything else that needed to be done.

Finally, after 15 minutes, the EMTs arrive, and the manager pauses the movie and turns off the lights. “We have a medical emergency people.”

Yeah, no shit Sherlock.

Long story short, the paramedics carried him away and took him to the hospital. The guy did have a slight history of low blood pressure, and he had passed out before. The woman thanked me, repeatedly, and I said it was no problem at all. I was glad to help.

I’m like Spiderman, ya know. Everyone gets one.

But seriously. Anyone ever experience something that before? Where literally NO ONE responds? It’s weird.

2.  Not that I needed another reason to take Spike – I’m addicted to the stuff – but I needed a little mental boost yesterday to get myself in “the zone” to bang out my presentations for the PTDC Hybrid Strength Seminar coming up this weekend in Toronto

I was like a presentation writing Jedi I tell you.

I was able to get the meat and potatoes down, and now it’s just a matter of organizing the material – adding in a few videos here, a few Jon Goodman jokes there.  You know, the important stuff.

I’ll just take this opportunity to let everyone know that there’s still a few spots left. If you’ve been on the fence about attending, I assure you, you WILL NOT want to miss this.

Both Nick Tumminello and I will be hosting a pre-seminar (the COREssessment) this Saturday, where we discuss assessment and anything and everything as it relates to core training.

And then on Sunday, it’s the main event with presentations from myself, Nick, Jon Goodman, Mark Young, Dan Trink, and Geoff Girvitz……with an expert panel to follow.

It’s definitely shaping up to be one of the “go to” fitness events in Canada this year, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a networking opportunity it’s going to be for those who attend. Sure, you’re going to learn a crap ton, but these types of events are always worth the price of admission when you factor in the networks established with other professionals.

3.  I’m thinking about implementing more video blogs (vlogs) into the mix. Truth be told, they’re more efficient from a time saving standpoint, and my fingers take less of beating.

I was just wondering if there were any topics that people wanted to me cover whether they’re more exercise technique based stuff, programming design, shadow puppet shows, anything???

4.  Check out THIS awesome transformation from one of Bret Contreras’ distance coaching clients.  Wow. Truly inspirational stuff.

What I liked most about Ruth’s story was how she goes into detail about how her transformation not only improved her physical well-being, but her emotional and inner well-being as well – especially with regards to her marriage.

Being kind of banged up right now and not being able to train the way I’d like to, has definitely played mind games with me, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little down as a result.

Suffice it to say, it was a breath of fresh air to hear someone speak so candidly on both the physical AND mental attributes that come with taking your health into your own hands.


Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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Comments for This Entry

  • Lars Krogstad

    Video blog: How to not suck at benching. you've done deads and squats, so looking forward to this one. Also, I know there might be some privacy issues about this, but it would be awesome to see you and the other coaches at CP in action, coaching! How you approach you clients, whether they are pros or weekend warrior moms, how you cue them and what not. Not like an entire session, but for some of the big, and some of the smaller exercises.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:00 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      There's an article for Livestong that I wrote not long ago (which hasn't gone up yet) that discusses many of the coaching cues I use when teaching the bench press. I could definitely make a Cliff Notes version of that and make it into a blog post. Nice call Lars!

      June 12, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply to this comment

  • Steve

    Program design for non-power lifters! Also i would like to see a good phase 1 type of program with maximal results while sparring the joints. I banged myself up a bit(lower back joints)and im gnna stay away from heavy iron for a month or two. I wanted to see how you would design a rest phase while still getting some good training in. Thank you for any help!  

    June 11, 2012 at 10:51 am | Reply to this comment

  • The Swede

    Think it would be nice to see your approach on programming for a new client who is really unexperienced when it comes to strength training. I understand it has a lot to do with the things found in the assessment but I think it´s a little bit hard sometimes with new clients, unexperienced of gym training or Personal training to make them go through some warm-up and corrective exercises because they don´t see the benefits of this. Sometimes I more get the feeling of them wondering when they are about to start training. Of course this is also up to me to clarify the positive aspects of warming up, foam rolling and doing corrective exercises but once again it would be nice to see your take on how you program for a beginner personal training client with regard to what I talked about above.

    June 11, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Chris

    Video blog on how you approach clients with femoral acetabular impingment, as far as the training implications are concerned.

    June 11, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Alex

    Exercise technique pieces get my vote, the how to set-up a deadlift video is pure gold.

    June 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Domenic

    I've been there before Tony, I was taking a bus from Haymarket up Route 1 to Square One Mall where I worked at the time.  On one of the stops a big guy gets on with a woman that has a black eye.  They sit in the front seats.  Then a black guy gets on and asks the guy with the girl if he knows which side of the highway the Salvation Army was on, I could hear it clearly. All of a sudden the guy with the girl goes into a rage and starts throwing haymakers, punches the guy, swings so wildly he hits the bus driver, hard and she starts swerving all over the highway!  I, like you was in the very back of the bus, and I look at all the other guys between me and the guy throwing the punches and they all just look at the floor, no way are they going up there. So I put on my cape and go up there and hold the guy down, until things start to get under control. Not that im necessarily the ballsiest dude but I was like damn I wouldn't want to fly on a commercial flight with you guys. In general this was another opportunity to feel better about myself and worse about others.   But all kidding aside, very strange stuff.  The thing is after I went up there, some other guys got involved and started trying to calm some of the girls on the bus down that were upset and whatnot but they wouldnt have moved if I hadnt...

    June 11, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Drew

    Vlog idea...basic Core stuff you would do for someone who's back is bothering them a little...not like a seriously injured person, just someone who's having a little discomfort in the lumbar area and clearly needs to shape up in their core strength and stability. I think you could do a pretty cool 5-8 minute video of that, especially since all this stuff is fresh on your mind from all the Seminars you are doing on the topic recently.  Best of luck to you!

    June 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Brett

    Tony, For the situation with the guy at the movie, check out "vasovagal response". I recently had a friend who this happened to, its associated with an onset of anxiety. He was basically having a panic attack and passed out. He took it a step further and started uncontrollably urinating in his pants, this is not uncommon for someone experience a vasovagal response.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Funny you should mention vasovagal response. I suffer from that myself, but it's NOT anxiety related. About a year ago, I got a case of food poisoning and starting vomiting. Each time I vomited, I passed out. Cold. Scared the shit out of my girlfriend.

      June 12, 2012 at 8:14 am | Reply to this comment

  • Max Groszewski

    I was surfing my local reef break, when a fisherman slipped off about 400m away across the bay, I instinctively raced across and over a very hectic half hour managed to get him to shore... As for the other 40 odd people fishing? DIDN'T EVEN wind their lines in. I found it a disgusting show of human complacency.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Kyle Schuant

    The bystander effect is very real, I've seen it several times, I seem to be a magnet for lost wallets, people overdosed on drugs and so on.  One time I saw a guy in the street slumped and drooling stuff down his front, my first thought was drugs, but that seemed unlikely for an Indian guy in his 40s. He was unconscious but had a pulse so I called emergency, put him in the safe position. People were gathered around watching. I asked a woman if I could borrow her coat to put under the guy's head, since donking it on the asphalt wouldn't exactly help him. She looked scared, shook her head and took a couple of steps back. I tried to clear his mouth which was clogged with food but couldn't get his jaw open, then his eyes opened  and were fixed and glassy, I checked his pulse again, he'd arrested. I told emergency this and they talked me through CPR. As a former soldier and trainer I've got all the certificates, but when it happens for real your heart is beating hard and you're trembling, it helps to have a calm voice talk you through it. The paramedics arrived and shoved me aside, they had to get forceps to clear his airway - he'd choked on a sushi roll. They took him away and that was that. Ideally one person will be on the phone to emergency, another person doing the actual first aid, and someone else keeping the crowd back etc, since people tend to mill about rubbernecking and getting in the way. It's said that usually once one person steps forward others jump in to help, but this has not been my experience. They just stand and look. 

    June 12, 2012 at 12:24 am | Reply to this comment

  • Bret Contreras

    My psychology professor in college taught us about the bystander effect. Pretty crazy. Learned about the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese. This vid below shows some crazy footage. The more people around, the more likely you'll ignore the situation.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGaJrgi_SpE 

    June 12, 2012 at 12:56 am | Reply to this comment

  • Ben Mays

    Totally seen the  bystander effect, I was helping a lady who'd been knocked off her bike, as i started CPR i noticed that not only were people not helping but there were people actually filming the incident on their phones. I mean really WTF!

    June 12, 2012 at 6:56 am | Reply to this comment

  • Georgemazza

    This dude was banking on the bystander effect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALXBlAk1wKw

    June 12, 2012 at 10:44 am | Reply to this comment

  • Deb

    So, I went to see Prometheus last night?  It was awesome by the way and you should go see it too. There was a baby, literally, between 1-2 years old, crawling up the steps next to me and my boyfriend by himself.  My boyfriend and I looked around and finally, he turned to the near empty theater and asked, "Is this anyone's child?" - and people just started at him.  I IMMEDIATELY thought of this post and I went over, took the kid's hand and went on a mission to find his mom.  She was frantically looking for him in the hall.  Handed the little Cherub off just in time to see the Sci-Fi Horror madness.  Way to pass this forward, Tony.  

    June 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Reply to this comment

  • SAPT – Friday Musings: Butt Jump Roping, Pet Peeves, Star Wars A Cappella, Mentoring, etc.

    [...] in a sociology course in college, and Tony Gentilcore actually wrote a great, quick piece about it HERE. Learning about such incidents always make my heart drop a bit, and question the general tendency [...]

    June 22, 2012 at 5:56 am | Reply to this comment

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