When I teach cycling at a certain gym, I have a perfect view of the gym floor – including the treadmills. Yesterday I watched three, yes three, people run or walk at an up-tempo pace while holding tightly to the treadmill console. (I know, I should probably have been watching my class.) One person had her nose in a book, and has been known to complain to me about injuries…hmmm, a correlation?
Ever wonder what makes us fitness instructors and trainers roll our eyes, shake our heads, or get down-righted peeved. Here’s the top of my list…I’m sure there are plenty more – feel free to add on:
1) Holding on to the treadmill…oh wait, I already mentioned this one. If you are working so hard, or are so distracted, that you can’t help but hold on – you are doing yourself a disservice. You are literally towing yourself along – especially if you are holding on up a big incline. If you are new to treadmills and feel unsteady, go slowly at first. If you must hold on to the handrails, try weaning yourself off of them. Hold on for a minute or two and then let go for a minute or two. If you are running, no excuses. Yes, once in a while you grab a drink, change your settings or increase your music volume – that’s 10 seconds…not an entire workout.
2) Hanging on to your…insert name of cardio equipment here. When you slump over your stepmill, spin bike or stair climber, you are taking the weight out of your legs – making it harder to increase your heart rate and to burn calories. You are also putting undue pressure on your back.
3) Barbie Weights – unless you are resting, you need to lift heavy weights. The pink weights (and even the green and purple ones) are a little on the light side. You should fatigue in less than 20 repetitions. Fewer if you truly want to build muscle.
4) Smoking before you enter the gym – seriously, you say? Seriously. I have seen it.
5) Pulling the lat bar behind your head – at one time, it was believed that pulling the bar behind you better targeted the muscles of the back. We have learned since (I’m talking 15+ years here) that it puts undue stress on the neck and cervical spine. Over time, it can cause serious shoulder injury – career-ending for some athletes. It is not any more effective to pull behind your head, so why would you?
6) Inconsistency – yes, life gets in the way and not everyone works out for a living. However, you can’t blame your trainer or the workout if you a) don’t eat well and b) don’t actually work out. One or two or even three hours with your trainer cannot make up for what you do during the other 165 or so hours during your week. If you eat poorly and if you just can’t find other times to work out – the onus is on you.