I cancelled my gym membership a couple of days ago because I'm tired of their "just use machines and you'll get jacked!" mentality and their soft rubber mats underneath their squat racks. I'm looking for a gym with bumper plates and some more serious lifting equipment.
I'd stick to my university gym, but the way their benchpress is set up, they're asking for people to get shoulder problems. It's because of the "J" hook that is being used on all of the benches. Instead of using a hook that's shaped like this (the proper way):
Part of the bench that holds the hooks -> ||___/ <- flat area before the small hook that keeps the bar in place when not being lifted
They use pegs that go directly into the bench stand, and so they end up looking more like this:
With no flat area before the hook. What this unfortunately means is that you must be able to lift what you're benching entirely with your shoulders in order to bring the bar out in front of your chest, since the bar is always going to rest above your head and not your chest. With a correctly made hook, you should be able to slide the bar out using a small amount of momentum from the flat area, and just be able to push horizontally to get the bar into place.
I believe this is stopping me from progressing with bench press as fast as I should be able to. Even if it wasn't, I doubt I'm going to be able to lift that much more on just my shoulders, and so it would be safer to find a gym with correctly made hooks and the rest of the gym equipment I'm looking for.