It’s a sunny Sunday morning and I’m on the couch watching reruns of Sex in The City; an episode I have already seen about ten times. At the same time, I am trying to come up with an idea for this article. What does anyone need to know about fitness and working out that they don’t already know or haven’t heard before? Good question. It got me thinking. If we’re all so smart about fitness, why are we so dumb when it comes to the gym?
Now before you get your sweats in a bundle, bear with me. What I mean is, for as much as we all know about exercise, there is still a stubborn retention of many old gym myths and continued thoughtlessness, and I don’t mean not wiping your equipment down after you sweat all over it.
For example, I have been a serial gym dater for years. My best friend Robbin dated churches for awhile until she found one that she could share a spiritual life with. I date gyms and will probably never settle down. I get bored. I get bored in my workouts as well which is why I introduce myself to and become familiar with every piece of cardio in every gym I happen to be dating. Not only do I use as many of the machines as are in service on any given day, I also use every program that each machine has to offer. Crosstraining! People, I know you know this, but still, I see loyal gym members doing the same cardio day in and day out. We’ve all got to know by now that doing a variety of cardio is important for, not only the boredom factor, but for continued measurable benefits as well as a reduction in overuse injuries and joint pain. Your body is sneaky. It quickly finds the easiest way to do anything. The easiest way is usually never the best, safest way. The same cardio every day becomes a snap for your body, even though you still feel like you’re working hard.
Here’s a good one: high weight, low reps vs. low weight, high reps. Sound familiar? Let me be the one to tell you definitively, it’s all good! Working with a variety of weights is so important for continued improvements in Strength and Endurance. Heavier weights build up our strength and give us visible results quite quickly. If you can perform 6-8 reps maintaining good form with a heavier weight, do it! And don’t wimp out on me ladies. Bulking up by lifting heavier is a myth. Unless you’re training for a body building contest and are taking steroids, you just don’t have the hormones to pump up like men can.
Bring you brain with you. Don’t leave your head in the car with your ice scraper and an empty windshield washer bottle. Working out smart is very 21st century. Mind-body exercise is not limited to Yoga and Pilates. Thoughtful cardio and lifting is so important, I go crazy thinking about it. The machines are not going to magically dictate great form for you while you’re watching, say, a rerun of Sex in The City. The old, sometimes harmful habits of your body dictate how you work out: old injuries, surgeries, alignment issues, muscle imbalances. Without attention and awareness, 30 minutes on the elliptical can actually hurt your knees in the long run. Lifting weights without some focus on what muscle you want to use is a ticket for the body to choose for you. All of a sudden, a bicep curl actually becomes an exercise for the traps and back of the neck, and we certainly do not need tighter necks.
A chiropractor once told me that a particular franchised studio had become his wet dream. He got so much business from women who worked out at this studio. I observed a class once and I totally know why. There is absolutely no thought involved. Granted, these women are moving. That is GREAT! But at what price?
I hope that I don’t sound preachy here…but if I do, it’s because of years spent training people and observing how people work out and from working out myself. Yes, exercise can be mindless and boring and painful, but it doesn’t have to be any of those things. It can be mind-blowing, interesting, and pain-free. Work out smart and let go of those gym myths that you’ve may have been carrying around. They carry very little weight!
Work out smart and see you in the gym!