Today’s post was inspired by the collective writings of four other bloggers; Michael Schletter of DailyBurn, Carla Birnberg of MizFitOnline and the “Right way/wrong way” exercise videos of Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams. Thanks so much for sparking this post.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. (Actually, Charles Caleb Colton, 1780 – 1832, said it first.)
I’ve certainly seen a lot of it in my day.
University students ‘borrowing’ papers from friends and colleagues. Bloggers writing about the same topics, using the same words and nuance as their peers. Exercisers attempting moves that they’ve seen others performing in the gym.
While copying others’ moves in the gym won’t result in a failing grade, public humiliation or social ostracization, it may lead to injury, or even worse, lack of progress towards one’s health and fitness goals
In my job as a personal trainer, there have been many occasions when I’ve noticed a ‘tag along’. Someone who’s paying particular attention to a client and myself as we work through my client’s exercise program.
Many a time I’ve noticed the ‘copy cat’ performing the same exercise that I’d just taught to my client; often with too much weight and improper form (I’m a stickler for form…).
And once, the ‘impersonator’, being too far from us to hear my position and safety cues, actually fell off the back of a Bosu attempting to mimic the following exercise. (Watch the video so you don’t make the same mistakes when executing a Bosu Deck Squat and don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ it with your friends. Thanks!).
Three reasons why ‘monkey see-monkey do’ isn’t the best strategy in the gym
- they exercise you’re copying might not be safe; just because some buff looking guy is pressing 30 pounds overhead while balancing single-legged on the flat side of a Bosu doesn’t mean that you should be too. Risk of injury is ever-present in the gym. Evaluate risk, taking your own fitness level and experience into consideration before trying to mimic a move.
- the exercise you’re copying might be being performed with poor form; in order to simultaneously get results from a strength training program and reduce the likelihood of injury, movements need to be performed with proper form. Learning to dead lift by watching a novice weight lifter is a recipe for lower back pain.
- the exercise you’re copying might not be effective; lots of the movements people perform in the gym do very little to improve their fitness. Either their weights are too light or their joints are moving through a limited range of motion at an unnatural angle or velocity.
Your best strategy to finding a strength training program that’s safe, effective and appropriate for YOUR goals is to hire a qualified personal trainer. Most gyms have them and if you’re particularly self-motivated and willing to focus on form before ‘fancy’, I just might have a couple of online training openings in the next month… Send me an email (email@example.com) and tell me a bit more about yourself, your current fitness level and your short and long term goals.
Yours in health, fitness and safety