My new training program has called for a lot of cross-training and some timed runs that I find easier to do on a treadmill. Because of this, I have found myself going to the local gym way more than I have in the past. I have probably been to the gym more in the last month than I had in the previous 2 years combined. It’s really been an interesting time watching the wide spectrum of people who come in for their workouts, ranging from young to old; athletic to, well, not so athletic; the focused to the people who are just there to chat and people watch.
During this stretch I’ve included swimming, cycling, stair climbing, rowing and a variety of elliptical machines. When I try using a fitness machine of any kind for the first time, I always want to make sure that I am using proper form. Doing otherwise is a surefire way of either A) getting injured or B) failing to maximize the health benefits of a workout. I start slowly to make sure that I am “doing it right” and slowly pick up speed, constantly conscious of where my body parts are. Most of the time, those first workouts feel extremely light – I am unable to get my heart rate where I want it to be – and that is because, as soon as I feel my form is falling apart, I will dial it down until I get it right.
After two or three attempts on an apparatus, I usually have it down and am able to push to where I need to be and get the amount of sweat I’m looking for.
What has struck me as I go to the gym on a regular basis now is the complete mess that so many people seem unaware that they are:
- On the rower I see people with their arms and legs completely out of sync and with their hands moving up and down as if going over a hill,ending up near their eyes.
- On the stairmaster I see people bent over at the waist almost 90° with their hands turned out on the rails.
- On the treadmill I see people holding on for dear life to the top of the display as their legs go flying out behind them.
- On the elliptical I see people, and Lord knows how they do this, bent over with their elbows above their heads.
Every one of these people is working hard, but I know they are doing themselves a disservice. Now you may be thinking Luau, maybe they are at the end of their workouts and they’ve just run out of gas. You know, that would be fine (sorta!) but I’ve been watching these people for several weeks now and it is how do their workout for the WHOLE workout.
Honestly though, their bad form isn’t entirely their fault. There are several trainers that are walking around the gym at any given time. THEY should know better. THEY should take the opportunity to show these people the proper form. That being said, each individual should take the time to make sure they are doing something the right way before putting the pedal to the metal when exercising – this includes running outside too.
If you’re just starting this exercise thing, keep in mind, that if you don’t know how to properly use a machine or are not sure how to run with proper form, don’t be afraid to ask somebody. You’ll end up seeing positive result in the mirror, on the scale and in your head much more quickly. Swallow a little pride and ask. It can make all the difference in the world.