I don’t believe in tricks or gimmicks to lose weight, and honestly, I’m not on board with the new surge of circus antics and shenanigans you see so many people doing in the gym and posting on social media, under the name of fitness or working out. See to me, fitness, working out, isn’t about how complicated or asinine you can make an exercise; nor is it about how many likes you can get on social media because it appears to be difficult. Working out, weight training, exercising, is about taking care of your body, training in a way, that allows you to obtain maximum results over time, without the heightened possibility of injury looming overhead. Sure, there is a slight risk of injury with anything you do, but when you load on a ton of weight, add an unstable surface, and throw a number of other variables, into the mix, you are creating a recipe for disaster, and it may not happen today, tomorrow, months or years from now, but believe me, it will happen because the ability to maintain proper form, becomes more difficult with every variable that is added. Maintaining proper form throughout the entire range of motion for a full set, should be the main focus of every exercise that you do, because just one slip, tweek, twist the wrong way, could cause sever and possibly permanent damage. When did so many people lose sight of that? When did complexity and antics take the place of safety and form?
When I started weight training, one of the things I told myself is, I wanted my body to be able to carry me into my silver years. What that means to me is that when I’m old and gray, I want to still be active and strong, I never want the actions of my youth to break my body down to a point that it becomes difficult for me to perform simple movements or I become immobilized. So I study, I study movement, proper alignment, joint stability, because to me, weight training is a life long journey of mastering a skill and if you study and respect it, it will be kind to you. If you don’t, the damage that it can and will do, is often irreparable.
And what of the new generation of men and women coming into the gym for the first time, as trainers and patrons alike? What does this, “as long as it’s physical and gets your heart rate up, anything goes” attitude say to them? As patrons, it scares many away, and injures others, and as new trainers, it teaches them to negate, the most important part of the job, creating a safe program that clients can benefit from. When giving clients an exercise to execute, trainers should always have these questions in mind:
1. Is the movement functional? How safe is it?
2. What purpose does the exercise serve and what am I trying to accomplish with it?
3. Does the purpose fall in line with the goals of the client?
4. Does the client posses the mobility to execute the move with proper form throughout the full range of motion?
5. Is this an exercise that the client can perform properly on their own?
Every exercise given to a client should have a purpose that revolves around their fitness goals. That purpose needs to be greater than a trainer trying to convince them that they are tough, a boss, or a beast in the gym. It’s not about the trainer, it’s about the client, their fitness journey, and feeling comfortable with the exercises they are given. They will listen to the trainer because they trust them, they hired the trainer to get them into shape and in choosing that trainer, they did so believing, the trainer knew what they were doing. So, to give them exercises that really serve no purpose, physically take them out of alignment, or heighten the possibility of injury, is reckless.
The fitness industry is rapidly changing, it’s to be expected, change is inevitable; however, like with anything, there are basic principles and standards that should always apply. With exercise, good form and true purpose for execution are two of these principles. To neglect or eliminate them, along with other basic principles, opens the flood gates to injuries. So be mindful of the way you choose to train. If you see a new exercise being done at the gym that you want to try, but are unsure about purpose and form, ask what the exercise is for? Have the person executing it show you the proper form, and make sure you can maintain that form through the full range of motion, with them present, before you venture out to try it on your own. Social media exercises are a bit more tricky, because you can’t speak directly to the person, so if you see an exercise you want to try, show the video to a trainer at your gym, that you feel comfortable with, and have them explain the form and purpose of the move. In writing this, my hope is that people will become more mindful of how they’re exercising and the importance of form and purpose. My hope is that people will start questioning the purpose of exercises that they see, questioning what their form should be and how it will benefit them on their fitness journey, instead of just seeing an exercise they think looks tough or cool and trying it. My hope is that people will educate themselves and in doing this, they too will train so that their bodies will carry them into their silver years as well.