Archive for March, 2009

Running- Why You Should Not (Just Starting) Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Running has long been regarded as the ultimate form of cardio; if you want to get in shape and be healthy the common thought is that running is the answer. This is highly inaccurate and can create a lot of harm if this type of thinking permeates the way you look at exercise and health in general. Today and the next couple of weeks I will provide reasons why running can be more harmful than productive and then following that I will list some of the benefits of running.

Americans increasingly are out of shape and overweight knowing little to nothing about how to get healthier. This lack of familiarity with exercise many times leads to the abuse of running; many people go out and either have high expectations of what they can accomplish and fail or they have low expectations and find themselves unmotivated and quit trying, both are harmful. Having high expectations can lead to premature and excessive physical activity which is potentially harmful.

The mental aspect of beginning an exercise regimen can be one of the biggest hurdles or one of the greatest motivators. If you expect to achieve great results immediately, it is probably not going to happen; they usually come slow and steady. Running is one of those activities that are hard to see an improvement in right away which causes a lot of people to stop and return to their old lifestyle. Committing to getting healthier and knowing that results might come slow will change your outlook on working out and when you see good results it will be a pleasant surprise.

When starting any exercise program it is wise to realize where you are at, usually in poor physical condition, which means that you should ease into exercising, this allows the body to be able to respond in a favorable manner instead of crashing or failing and causing injury. Starting to run after a significant amount of time being idle adds tremendous stress on the body, particularly the leg muscles, joints, heart, and lungs. After achieving a fair level of confidence and conditioning is the time to push harder. Real life is not like The Biggest Loser, you will probably not have constant supervision by trained professionals. A personal trainer can mimic part of that atmosphere and I encourage you to contact one, especially if you are just starting to work out. They will be able to assess your physical state far better than yourself and can train you safely. However, if you do not have a personal trainer, continue to pursue information that will increase your understanding of how to exercise safely.

Running can be dangerous for those just beginning to work out. Pushing too hard or not pushing hard enough can be dangerous and disheartening. If you are trying to change your lifestyle, get healthier, and get in better shape, I would encourage you to forget running and instead use an elliptical or stationary bike to begin, even a treadmill; these are infinitely safer and deliver amazing results, even compared to running.

Gym Etiquette- Grunts and Slams Saturday, March 21st, 2009

To finish off this series on gym etiquette I will discuss a topic that will probably elicit different responses. However, I think that my view is probably the majority view so please take that into consideration while reading. Every now and again there will be someone lifting weights in the gym who makes terrible sounding grunts and groans. There are also those people in the gym that feel it is necessary for them to drop or slam their weights to the ground. Both of these actions are annoying and the second is potentially very dangerous.

Grunting, moaning, or yelling while lifting weights is partially understandable; it gives some people that extra motivation or exertion to push harder and lift the weight. I do not think there is any scientific data that supports this idea but many people believe it does give them an advantage. While this may or may not be true, it is still not necessary and not appropriate for a public gym setting. Try to keep noises within while working out; it is highly distracting when you have a person working out next to you expelling sounds reminiscent of a dying animal. Even excessively loud breathing can be highly frustrating when trying to work out. Again, just try to not make a lot of needless noise.

A scenario that often occurs in the gym is a thunderous crash of weights slamming against the floor. Why? This happens when people are obviously trying to lift weights that they are incapable of lifting safely because they cannot even put them down with any semblance of control. I do not buy the argument that someone would drop the weights out of sheer exhaustion; this certainly is possible, but I have only seen a few people in my life who would qualify for this classification and none have been in the gym. A more likely explanation is that people want to draw attention by declaring with the sudden, sharp noise that they are lifting a weight heavy enough that people should look at what they accomplished. Rarely have I seen someone lift an inspiring amount of weight and those people who do lift a mountainous mass of weight are usually able to put the weight down in a controlled manner. Letting go of weight carelessly is also a safety hazard for not only the person dropping the weight by also those who are nearby.

Consideration for other people in the gym is the reoccurring theme that I have tried to emphasize in this series on gym etiquette. When in the gym you should focus your efforts on yourself but your efforts should not interfere or distract others from theirs. So next time you are in the gym, remember, try not to make any weird sounds, meaning anything except breathing, and absolutely refrain from dropping weight, it is really not that heavy and you are certainly not that tired and if you want attention, get over yourself and learn to be humble. After all, the gym is a great place to learn humility.

Gym Etiquette- Space and Equipment Misuse Sunday, March 1st, 2009

One of the things that I have noticed in the weight room is that some people insist on doing various exercises in the wrong part of the weight room. Sometimes this is not a huge problem but other times it can prove to be highly inconvenient for other people and even a hazard in some cases.

The most common exercises performed in the wrong part of the weight room are pushups and sit-ups. Some people use the benches by the weight racks to do various abdominal exercises. I can see how they might be beneficial for a workout, but they are not made for doing ab work and in the Rec Center’s weight room their purpose is to have people lift weights on them. There are mats in the back by the treadmills to work on abs. Each piece of equipment in the gym is there for a specific reason and reserved for those who are going to use it in accordance with that purpose. People who are doing abs are usually moving their legs around which can lead people to encroach on other people’s space. I also see people doing pushups near the weight racks as well. This causes the same problems except that they are performed on the ground which takes up a lot of space and can be highly inconvenient. Again, the mats in the back are where pushups are supposed to be done; please do them there.

One exercise that I see done all over the weight room is the lunge. Lunges can be an odd sort of problem because they are so slow, they need a lot of space to be performed, and there is not a set place for them to be done in the weight room. The worst place that I have seen them done is in front of or behind the benches near the weight racks. This creates tremendous problems for everyone who is working there because people are moving around putting weights on the rack and taking them off, going to get water, or travelling to change exercises. If someone is there taking forever doing lunges, the people who are supposed to be there have to maneuver around the person. Perhaps the best place I have seen people doing lunges is in the hallway leading back to the rec gym. It is a fairly long and wide space so people who are walking back to the gym or to the activity room have more than enough room to walk by and there are no people there working out to interfere with. I have seen people doing lunges by the machines and also by the treadmills and bikes. Both of these places are too small and have too many people continuously walking through for the space to be used by people doing lunges.

The main point that I am trying to convey is to, once again, be considerate to people while working out and to do exercises in the specific part of the gym that they are designed for. Each piece of equipment has a specific function and each part of the gym is designed for specific activities. If people follow the layout of the gym and use equipment properly, the gym will be a safer and more enjoyable place for everyone.