After years of working out in commercial gyms and also the gyms of the schools that I have worked at, I’ve seen a lot of questionable exercise techniques.
I watched a guy yesterday do some sort of reverse DB fly, only what he was doing was more of a full body convulsion, flailing the too-heavy dumbbells back and forth with no muscular control whatsoever. I would never actually approach anyone in the weight room to critique them, but I wanted so badly to yell “WHAT ARE YOU DOING???” But alas, I just watched out of the corner of my eye, making sure that no dumbbells came flying across the room during his spastic “lift”.
And it’s certainly not just isolated to the weight room, or to men either. There was a woman at my old gym that used to literally gallop around, clapping her hands against her thighs. Yes, I said gallop. And if you’re confused, I was too. If you’re wondering what that even means, I don’t know how to explain it in words. I could do a pretty awesome imitation though. And this was not an isolated event; I saw this multiple times. Again, she could have used a good “WHAT are you doing?!?”
Just the other day, I was at the gym and watched a girl do an entire workout from atop a BOSU ball.Here was her routine, all done with an 8 lb bar:
Over. And Over. And Over. Again.
My problem here is not that she was holding an 8 lb bar. If that is a challenging weight for her, than that’s great, we all have to start somewhere. My problem with this is also not that her “squats” involved her moving about 3 inches, because hey, she was a little wobbly on that thing and I was slightly worried she was going to fall off if she squatted any deeper.
My BIG problem here is that Damn BOSU ball. I guarantee you, if I asked her “What are you doing? Why are you on a BOSU ball?” She would tell me something along the lines of “Oh, don’t you know? It works your core and makes all of your muscles work harder because you have to stabilize at the same time”
And I don’t blame her for this backwards way of thinking, I really don’t. I blame women’s magazines, and Jillian Michaels, and all of the other evil bullsh*t marketing geared towards “women’s fitness”.
Forgive me, I’m about to rant.
If I could get this girl to stop and think about it for one second, do you think I could get her to step off the BOSU? Do you think I would be able to get her to understand a few key points?
- You may be working on your balance, but being able to balance does not make you stronger.
- If you got off that gosh-darn BOSU, you’d be able to lift more weight. Guess what happens when you are able to lift more weight? Your muscles are working harder.
- When you begin lifting more weight, to lift with good form you MUST engage your core. So guess what again? Not only are your muscles working harder, but your core is also working to stabilize without having you look like a fool, perching atop a giant bubble.
Don’t get me wrong. BOSU balls are not trash. They have their place in the world. And that place is in rehab facilities. When rehabbing a lower extremity injury, working on balance and proprioception on an unstable surface can be useful.
Susie Schmoozie in the big commercial gym, however, is getting no conceivable benefit from teetering on a BOSU while lifting pink weights over her head.
Now, I don’t want all of you reading this to think that I just walk around the gym with my nose in the air judging everyone else. Because I know very well that I’m not perfect either, and there’s probably someone else who sees some of my lifts and thinks “What is SHE doing?!?”. In fact, I fell victim to the BOSU mumbo-jumbo years ago too. I used to do all of those “functional” balancing exercises because I read that it was better for me. So I’ve been there. I get it. I’m also more educated now, and I know better.
The girl on the BOSU ball is not an idiot, and I’m glad she’s making the time to exercise at all. I just wish, for her sake, that she had a little bit more information on ways to improve what she’s already doing. She probably doesn’t know any better. The guy with the dumbbells, well, he may be too macho to go down in weight on the dumbbells, so hopefully he doesn’t get hurt, but at least he’s trying, I guess.
My point is, if you’re doing something, or if your personal trainer has you doing something and you’re not sure if it’s actually benefitting you or not, just take a second to ask “What am I doing?” If you have a legitimate reason as to why you are doing whatever it is that you do in the gym, than by all means, be my guest. But don’t “do” just to “do”. Do it with purpose. Do it with a goal in mind. Do it because it is making you better. If that’s the case, than no one else really can judge you, right?
As for the galloping woman… well… I have to admit it. I am judging her. I just don’t get it.