June 24, 2024

Gym Common Sense by Nicole Bryan

Are you a liability to fellow exercisers?

Shoulders back! Abs in! Chin up! Hips back! You hear constantly about proper body mechanics during your workouts. You can read about the proper progression of a squat and about how to make sure you’re doing this correctly and that effectively. However, if you’re a danger to yourself or others in your workout area, proper spinal alignment is a mute point.

Are you guilty? Using equipment incorrectly is a waste of time and energy. The danger and threat of injury (sometimes serious injury) should be obvious, but yet walk into almost any fitness center and you’ll see it. Don’t be caught doing these serious misjudgments.

Not using collars on plate and bar racks. So you’re doing an overhead shoulder press and your right arm gives out. Over goes the bar with the plates sliding off, and you are pulled sideways in tow. Anyone else in the vicinity may lose a toe or foot!  Use the weight collars provided and lock up the weight. If they aren’t visible on the floor or stacked on top of a weight tree, ask the staff.

Lifting heavy without a spotter. Accidents happen. Sometimes you’ll reach fatigue faster than we expected. If you get stuck, the spotter is there to help. Line up a spotter before the sets begins. You’ll save your body from an unexpected slip, and your ego from having to shriek for help.

Uncontrolled free weights. Bouncing the free weights around uses momentum, not muscle. It increases your chance of injury and defeats the purpose of your workout. Ever been standing next to someone facing the mirror and without warning they swing the dumbbell up and out to the side of their body? It’s unsafe for you with the possibility of getting knocked in the head and ineffective for them as their deltoids are screaming in agony!

Being unaware of your space. For example, you pick up a kettlebell and begin your exercise, without noticing the person who is stretching on the floor a few feet to your right. She has her eyes closed to focus on her stretch and now you’re swinging the kettlebell over her. If your grip should slip, or if she gets up quickly she could be seriously injured. Simply asking a fellow exerciser to share space will eliminate any confusion.

Not knowing how certain equipment should be used. For example, using a bosu ball flat side up when it’s clearly marked on the base of the piece that it is not intended for using that way. Another common example is using a stability disk that’s inflated to the max when you’ve never done balance work before. Loading up with dumbbells, the first few reps may go off without a hitch, but what happens when your friend walks by and distracts you. Over you go, landing on whomever is nearby.

Be proud you’re doing something healthy, but let’s face it sometimes space is tight during peak exercise hours. When you’re sharing workout space, be safe and smart. Pay attention to nearby working-outers; if you see them cringe and reach for their cell phone to prepare to dial emergency for you as you’re heading toward a certain piece of equipment, better ask for some assistance.

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