Friday, January 4, 2013

Don't Waste your Time in the Gym

I just got back from the gym, nothing unusual there, but this morning it got me so frustrated. Not with my own workout but what I saw when I looked around me. I might add at this point, I have not been training at the gym I usually train at (a change is as good as a holiday). So, before any PT's I know and those that know where I usually train take offense, this gym shall remain nameless.

What IS really great to see, is the number of people who have either already gotten back into their training routine after Christmas and New Year or those that have started a new one. But for f*#k's sake, if you are going to do it, do it well! I know very few people in this day and age that have the time and energy not to spend both well. When I looked around this morning I saw some very strange, if not completely dangerous, sights. And not only from people training alone. Some of those people were training with trainers who were more interested in having a good chat than ensuring their client was training well. More on that later.....

In the first instance, if you have never been into a gym before, or have never gained proper instruction, it is my recommendation that you seriously consider getting teaching off the right person. It is nobody's 'fault' if they go into the gym and don't really know what they are doing. If you have never been taught them how should you know?  If I want to learn or something new I will seek out the right person to help me learn the new skill or technique. I am a trainer and I work with other trainers to increase my knowledge and check my technique. Nobody knows everything and we can all benefit from the right instruction. Not to mention the fact that if you are consistently doing exercises incorrectly you run an increased risk of injury. You will potentially recruit the wrong muscles in the wrong order, use poor technique and develop habits which take time to undo and also put you at the risk of injury down the track when muscles that have been compensating for others finally give way.  For example; back, hip and knee injuries often come from an incorrect use of 'core' muscles and more of a bracing technique than proper inner abdominal (transverses abdominis, pelvic floor, multifidus) recruitment. Many people just rely on their external abdominal muscles to protect their back during heavy lifting and over time this is a recipe for disaster. And that injury will often occur during an everyday activity because the correct muscles just don't bother working anymore because apparently they don't 'need' to.

I work with people everyday that struggle to 'move their body in space', some people take to exercise more naturally than others, just like some people can spell better than others. Some of these people cannot squat properly and will forget how to do it correctly by the next time they train. But the fact that I am working with them every time they exercise to ensure that the correct technique is trained into them over time is fantastic. I have seen many of these people go on to completely transform their body and awareness.

This leads nicely on to my next gripe - just because someone is a personal trainer, doesn't mean that they are the right PT for you (or a good PT at all). Before you put your body into someones hands make sure you check them out. Check out their technique when they train other people, check out their technique when they train themselves (if you can), check out their attention to their clients when they are training them and how much they offer advice or corrections - even an exercise performed extremely well can often be tweaked to make it even better or harder.  Talk to other people and find out what they know about them, talk to their clients and ask them if they are getting results and what results they are getting (results should always be tracked through regular testing). Will they regress a client or go back to basics if they are lifting too heavy and not nailing technique (very important in my book). Do they have the best possible experience for your needs?  If you had an eye problem you wouldn't visit a knee surgeon would you? It is the same with PT's - if not even more so. Many PT's attempt to be masters of everything and experts of nothing. Not a problem if you fall into the general population with no injuries, special requirements or specific goals BUT if you do have any of the above then do yourself a favour and really check out their experience and credentials.

Throughout different phases of your training lifetime you may need to work with different trainers and a really great PT will not hesitate to refer you onto someone that they feel can help you more at this time. And last but not least if a trainer is talking on their phone, sending text messages, sitting down and losing concentration during sessions do yourself a favour and move onto the next one. If nothing else you are spending your money for their time and if at a basic level you are not getting that it's time to find someone new.

Doing the most effective and most efficient exercises for you, especially if you are working with a great trainer, is a wonderful use of your time and you can gain fantastic results when performed well and consistently. Make this year your best year of training yet. Make the changes you need to make in order to ensure you are not wasting your time and energy. Get these simple things in order, throw out the old (if they are not working anymore) - both in regards to exercises and trainers, bring in the new and look and feel more fantastic than ever in 2013.

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