Have you ever been to a gym, looked at the machines and thought “how do I use that?” I know I will just wait until someone else uses it and copy him or her!! What you may not know is that they are probably using it wrong too!!
I often cringe when at the gym and see some horrendous mistakes being made by members on the machines. Sure I know we all have to start somewhere but when dangerous moves are being made I sometimes cannot help myself from jumping in and showing them a “better way” of doing it.
I am experienced enough and wise enough to never tell someone at the gym that they are doing it wrong as it serves no purpose other than to make them feel silly or as has happened to me in the past …I get told to mind my own business. So you really need to be careful if you do make the decision to approach someone in the gym that is doing something totally wrong. Of course, there is always the old school beef cakes that I never approach, they really don’t want to be told that what they are doing have been proven scientifically to be dangerous. All they care about is “lifting heavy weights to get big guns!!”
What I can totally recommend to “newbies” is to get a personal trainer to show you how to use the machines properly. A lot of clubs these days throw in a personal training session in with the membership so make use of it as much as you can. Make sure you get a trainer that is accredited and suits your style. Shop around and if you get stuck with a trainer that sucks, ask for another one. When I first landed in Los Angeles, I got stuck with a trainer fresh out of college (yes I was doing the train the trainer – I am a firm believer in practicing what you preach so I like having a trainer as well).
Anyhow, whilst this trainer was technical he lacked, umm, any social skills or ability to describe things to clients so his communication and my understanding of what he wanted me to do were lacking. It also didn’t help that he tried to put me on a 1,300-calorie diet. (That’s what I call starving – especially for me as I teach five classes a week, I am 5’7” and really need at least 1,800-2,000 calories a day to survive. The end result is I swapped to another trainer (the guy who was also training my husband at the time) and to this day we have remained excellent friends and still train each other because not only is he a good trainer but we have an excellent rapport. Even my son loves him when he comes over for family dinners on Sunday night.
The moral to the story is do a little research and find a trainer that suits you, a trainer that can mix it up a little and realizes that one size doesn’t fit all.
Another way to get up to date with good exercise form is to attend an exercise class – make sure you tell the instructor you are new and they will help you out. Don’t’ make the mistake of hanging out at the back of the room. Be at least in the second row so you can see the instructor. Try to turn up to the class a few minutes before the class starts. Trust me there is nothing worse than when you are five minutes into a class and four people walk in and tell you they are new. You can’t stop the class for them, you must soldier on. BUT if you arrive a few minutes early and chat to the instructor they are more likely to set you up for success and check in with you through out the class. Likewise they may come up to you after the class and see how you went or see if you have any questions. It’s much easier to grab the attention of an instructor when you need help half way through the class if you have already built a little rapport with than to figure out what the heck is going on when you arrive late and the instructor is fuming at you for interrupting the class. If you are late due to traffic or unforeseeable conditions sneak in and apologize straight away and as soon as you get a chance get the instructors attention and let them know you are a beginner.
Don’t be shy after the class is finished either. The instructor is getting paid to help you so ask as many questions as you need to. Their job is to make you feel comfortable and to hopefully get you back in the class.
Ok, so you get the drift – here is an excellent article I found in Women’s Health Magazine. It’s an excellent magazine that I read quite often and you will find heaps of tips and tricks in there. Here is the article with pictures of what not to do in a gym.
It highlights not using the seated leg extension machine, the shoulder press machine, the behind the neck lat pull down, seated chest fly and seated hip abductor machine. Better still, it offer alternatives to these exercises and if heaps of people pay attention to this article, it will stop me from pacing the gym floor and cringing at people practicing unsafe exercises!!
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