There are two things I can always count on as we head into Spring: more clients at the gym and more people dieting. Angst over body shape and size, fueled by trying to live up to impossible standards, gets worse as we think about warm weather up ahead, body-baring clothes and beach holidays. But if we're not careful, that frustration with trying to create changes can lead us to not only make some very bad choices about how we get there, and not really pay attention to what we're doing with and to our bodies.
I love taking other people's classes! Just to see what's out there, to enjoy my own workout instead of being the Instructor, and maybe pick up some new ideas for my own clients. I do admit it, I'm picky; I teach my classes from the perspective of a personal trainer and my main concerns are: #1 safety, #2 alignment, #3 making it challenging but also include modifications for different fitness levels and limitations, #4 making stretching an integral part of the workout, and #5 use great music that is motivating but not annoying. You also have to consider that I've been teaching almost 30 years and I've seen/done it all--including the Jane Fonda workout with the doggy side leg lifts in our spandex and thong leotards. Oh those were the days! But I digress...
But to be honest, I find very few classes that meet my main concerns for my own classes or training clients, especially when it comes to #1, #2 and #4. I realize there are many participants who think this is just fine--the "fell the burn/pain" and extreme muscle fatigue with accompanying soreness for 2-3 days may be just what they're looking for. And maybe you don't mind not being cued on alignment and technique, even though this is making sure your neck, shoulders, spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet are working together to provide true strength, flexibility and stability-- thus lowering your risk of injury and getting a much more effective workout..
But this is what I have to tell you from the perspective of an experienced Personal Trainer who interacts with Orthopedic Surgeons and Physical Therapists: If safety isn't the first concern of any exercise professional and modifications and flexibility training are absent, clients are at a higher risk of injury--and not necessarily when they're in a class or a training session. It tends to happen when you least expect it--maybe just reaching over to pick up a sock from the floor and pulling a muscle in your back instead, or serving a tennis ball and your rotator cuff tears, or stepping off the stairs and your knee gives out. Its having to go in for a hip or knee replacement ultimately caused by misalignment and chronic overuse issues in your own workouts.
Since these things don't necessarily happen in a class situation or during a personal training session, we may not suspect a direct causal effect. But Physical Therapists know---and I love getting the lowdown from them about all the things their patients have done incorrectly at the gym, in fitness classes, and in boot camp (not a fan...) that drive them to their offices. Many exercises that have been contraindicated for years are still being used by professionals everywhere, the very exercises and techniques that keep PTs workin'!
I'm not saying don't go the gym or a class, but ultimately you have to be responsible for what you're doing. Because you're the CEO of You, you can make choices bases on what's best for your body. You may think you don't have any other options than to do exactly what the instructor is doing, even though it doesn't feel good or it causes pain. You may feel intimidated by the "pack mentality" and trying to keep up with the person next to you throwing that kettle bell over their head or packing on the gear and speed in spin class. Its easy to think you have to keep up with the music beat in circuit class even though it's pushing you to work unsafely and beyond your fitness level.
My advice? Pause, breathe and slow down, and stop repetitions when 1) the muscle group you're trying to work is already exhausted and you're breaking correct form, and 2) it hurts. Learn to distinguish Pain from Strain. They are significantly different and you'll only know the difference if you stay aware and mindful of what you're doing--no zoning out when working out!
And always let an instructor or trainer know about any problem you've encountered, because they can use that information to address your immediate needs and better their own skills. Also, if you feel like you've torn a muscle or something more intense, the gym or facility needs to know right away!
Working out with a Personal Trainer for several sessions to learn about proper form and safe range of motion is very helpful, and especially if that person comes highly recommended. Vet your trainer like you would a new employee--ask questions about their certifications, their experience and clientele, and they should be asking questions about your current and past health and injury history, preferences and goals. If not, don't hire them! In about ten personal trainer sessions, you should have a working plan that is tailored just for you and gives you confidence to go forth on your own for several months, until you're ready for more challenge and something new!
I would love to help you create a workout plan that works uniquely for you, and to keep you safe from injury at the same time! If you're in Nashville or the surrounding area, we can train at your place or a nearby gym--let's start the conversation! check out my website and contact me! I have training and Holistic Health Coaching specials going on right now, so take advantage! Specials are good till Feb 14th and make great gifts--for you, or someone else you love! Be Well! Carol