That's an interesting perspective your friend has.
I workout at home so it is irrelevant for me.
But even if I did workout in a gym, I don't think I would give the plate loading a second thought. There will always be people weaker than me and stronger than me, and I don't care what either thinks about how much I lift as long as it is working for me.
Nice avatar by the way, I used to love Sting when I followed wrestling in the late 90's.
James 1:16-17 ESV
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights
With God's help...Mens sana in corpore sano