Katie Scott highlights what gets her cringing
Since passing my personal training qualifications at the end of December 2015, I’ve found myself becoming rather eagle eyed in the gym. I simply can’t help myself – it’s my normal nosiness on a whole new level. For starters, I love watching the personal trainers. I like seeing what exercises and combinations they are making their clients do, taking notes on how they teach and demonstrate, generally getting ideas and inspiration of my own.
Another aspect I tend to now spot however is bad form, and that is definitely not so intriguing. I have to grit my teeth and try and zone out to try and stop myself from charging over and trying to help. I’m pretty sure your average exerciser wouldn’t appreciate a fellow gym goer arriving out of the blue to correct them on their technique. Just as a heads up peeps, be careful with your January fitness makeovers, here’s a few of the things I’ve spotted.
About 95% of people in my gym seem to have no idea how to use the rowing machines correctly and it grates on me like nothing else in this entire world. I love rowing. I may not be the strongest at it physically, however I think the rower is a fantastic, all round piece of equipment. Not only does it work both your upper and lower body effectively at the same time (therefore hitting more muscles in less time) but it is also non-impact, so very handy when my plantar fasciitis decides to crop up again. I also find it a good machine for intervals, so it’s a nice one to mix into your sessions – if you do it properly.
First things first people, the chain between the handlebar and the head of the machine needs to be parallel to the floor at all times, so continuous lifting it up and over your legs is really not the ticket. I find it helpful to think about the order of the movement, almost chanting it – push with the legs first, following by pulling with the arms, then the arms head back the way they came, followed by the legs. So, legs-arms-arms-legs. Chant it. Legs-arms-arms-legs, legs-arms-arms-legs… get it? Start off slow. If you do this, then the handlebars will move in a lovely straight line and you won’t be lifting the chain over your legs all the time.
Secondly, in correspondence with the above, the handlebar should reach to your bellybutton when you pull, not your chest, as this will throw your back out of whack and could cause you to overstrain – not good. By keeping the handlebars in that lovely straight line, the handlebar will tuck neatly into your bellybutton, just where we want it. Please.
You won’t believe me, but I literally just saw this one the other day while casually doing lat pull downs, and it nearly had me stop in my tracks. An exerciser had hopped on the leg curl machine so she was in a seated position, her legs still hanging vertically underneath her knees – and she was leg curling from this position. Just as a reminder, the correct starting position for the leg curl involves using the machine to support your legs in a horizontal position, straight out in front of you, toes dorsi flexed towards the ceiling. From here, you then flex the knees, curling the legs towards you, so they finish more in your traditional seated position. This encourages a much wider range of movement and gives greater opportunity to work against the load you have opted for. What the abovementioned gym goer was doing, was getting absolutely nothing from her workout.
Another recent situation I stumbled across involved a young man hogging the squat rack in my gym, purely to use the mirror opposite to take selfies. A couple approached wanting to – dare I say it – actually use the equipment, but couldn’t as it was proving too scenic a backdrop for a boastful ‘look at me’ pose. This is bad form in a different concept, however still just as valid. I’m not a huge fan of the gym selfie, but if you do feel a possessive need to take one, don’t take up too much space or equipment to do so – some folks are still trying to exercise after all.
Gym must do’s:
- Put equipment away after you – no one likes having to hunt around the whole gym for one dumbbell because someone was using it in the stretch area for Russian twists #justsaying
- If you cover something in sweat, clean it up. It’s gross and not to mention unhygienic
- Remember to mix your session up, including a warm up, cardio, resistance work, core exercises and a cool down. Use different exercises or training approaches too so that you don’t plateau
- Ask for a spotter when performing bench exercises where the weight will be travelling over your head – safety first!