October 13, 2010

A Funny Thing About Fitness

...Okay, so it's not really funny. It's rather disconcerting, really. I was working out at a little fitness club I go to on the weekends. It's an "all women's" fitness facility (although that day it smelled like 20 huge muscle men had gone 20 rounds in the dance studio) and offer those fabulous cardio machines with the personal TVs attached. I was settling in for a long cardio while watching some great Sunday afternoon chick flick when something caught my eye.

I turned towards this older woman (about 65) doing something completely crazy (and I have to admit, hilarious) on the treadmill. There she was, holding on for dear life as she altered the grade of the treadmill to almost upright. Her body was aligned adjacent to the tread and her hands were clinging to the console.  She almost looked like a perfect T. I did everything to hold back the laughter due to the ridiculousness of the scene. Why? She was eliminating the most important part of a workout like that. You don't hold on to dear life while walking up hill. You must allow for the lower body to take the brunt of the load to get the benefit of the exercise. I could have said something, but she looked like one of those ladies you don't bug if you know what's good for you.

So I went back to my movie.

Just then, a young women (about 25) got onto the StairMaster next to me. In the corner of my eye, I watched her speed up the machine while leaning most of her body weight onto her arms (as she leaned forward nearing about 90 degrees at the hips). It was as though if she let go all hell would break loose. Again, I bit my lower lip to avoid laughing out loud. Why bother? In the 90's this type of (terrible) form lead to something we referred to as "bubble butt". An overly developed part of your butt due to bad form on the StairMaster. In addition to her bad form, she was on the cell phone like E. Coli on room-temperature Canadian Beef.  I could have said something...but the movie was getting too good.

Again, I settled in and kept to myself.

It wasn't too long after that that I noticed a middle aged woman walking in to the gym and slowly towards the cardio machine of her choice, like a one introduces themselves to an angry grizzly bear.  She carefully mounted the stationary bike, pressed a few buttons, and quickly jumped off to try another machine. She found comfort in the recumbent cycle but without the understanding of appropriate set up. Her knees appeared to be hitting her chin, her back looked like a question mark from behind, and overall she didn't appear to be enjoying the ride.  She needed assistance and none was to be offered. The perils of private gym membership.

I could have left the comfort of my bike, but I decided against it.

I may sound like a lame ass for not stepping in, but for 20 years I have witnessed the same scenes over and over again and continue to be amazed at the lack of assistance offered and the lack of interest in doing the exercise right the first time.  There is a point at which you just can't step in anymore and you just have to play the role of fitness club member...or else I will go insane.

Fabulous symbol for exercise science...thanks Leonardo!
 There is a science to exercise and a right and wrong way to do them. It may sound pretty black and white, but if you are serious about your workouts, and want to avoid injury...get it right the first time and you will never have to break a bad habit. Find yourself a certified, well educated personal trainer (although there are always duds in every profession) or find some reputable reference manuals that may assist you in creating a safe, sound, and effective workout program.  The alternative is a waste good body parts due to injury (in my opinion).

Meanwhile, I'll be at the same gym again this weekend with my blinders (and a good movie) on....

That's all I got.

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